Celebrating Miller Junior High was important

I went to Miller Junior High School (MJH) on Sunday for its 100th anniversary and it was quite a spectacle, as it should have been because good teachers should be celebrated.

The festivities included hundreds of people, notable guests — John Hughes, Washington state historian and former editor and publisher for The Daily World, Aberdeen Mayor Doug Orr, Grays Harbor College President Dr. Carli Schiffner, Jerry Salstrom, retired principal at MJH, and a video message from Washington state Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal — plus many proud parents, other relatives and members of the public.

All of those notable guests spoke about the school, its history — first junior high school in the state, the impact teaching and mentoring a teacher can have on a young student, and the sheer joy of celebrating a school’s 100th year.

But that wasn’t the best part, not by a long shot.

The best part was seeing the students and the pride the music programs at MJH showed as they played “The Star Spangled Banner,” “The Miller March,” which is the school’s fight song, “Miller Alma Mater,” and another song dear to Aberdeen itself.

The MJH orchestra performed an impressive rendition of Nirvana’s “Come As You Are.” Besides covering a song one of Aberdeen’s most-well known people, Kurt Cobain was also a student at MJH.

If Cobain had been alive to see it, I think he’d have been proud because it was quite a performance.

The applauding audience seemed to really enjoy the rendition and I know I did. I even filmed it in its entirety from the second row of the hard bleachers and shared it on my personal Facebook page. Bravo to the orchestra, the school band and the school choir for their shared dedication to their craft for the Nirvana cover and the school songs. But the students didn’t do it on their own. They had instructors guide them.

Outside of the music, Salstrom shared a story close to his heart.

Salstrom, years ago, met this 7th grade student of his who told him “I’m not gonna graduate from high school.” Salstrom said it was her first week of 7th grade, which most likely meant she was 12. Salstrom not only believed in her and said “I’ve already decided you’re going to graduate from high school,” he also told her he’d see to it she made it through high school, whatever it took. She did graduate, just as he said she would.

That to me showed the importance of teachers, and why such a celebration like Sunday’s needed to happen.

Contact Reporter Matthew N. Wells at matthew.wells@thedailyworld.com.