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The Milton Measure

Departing Faculty: Don Dregalla

by Olivia Risoleo on Friday, June 9th, 2017

For nearly four decades, Dr. Dregalla, the Music Department Chair otherwise known as “Dr. D” to his students, has conducted Milton’s orchestras, leading the group from 12 students to the approximately 75-student operation it is today. More than that, he has inspired and motivated students to not only learn and master their instruments, but to love and appreciate the music they play.

Each semester, the orchestra has a concert to showcase all of the work that the students and Dr. Dregalla have done. This year, as it is his last at Milton Academy, Dr. Dregalla decided to put a fun twist on the Spring Orchestra Concert. The concert started with two different student groups—a string quartet, and a woodwind group — that were inspired by Dr. Dregalla’s teaching and love for music. Then the chamber orchestra performed, followed by the regular orchestra. The students played classical pieces, but as a special treat, the last song played was “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” because Dr. Dregalla is perhaps the most enthusiastic baseball fan in the Milton community.

In the middle of the song, right before the main melody, the orchestra stopped playing, and Dr. Dregalla, along with other performing arts department faculty, surprised the students and the audience by singing a cover of “Sweet Caroline.” The performance demonstrated Dr. Dregalla’s fun spirit and his desire to open himself up to his students. After the concert was over, the students presented gifts and brief speeches to him and his wife, Mrs. Dregalla, who teaches music in the middle school. Then, many members of the performing arts department gave heartwarming speeches to their old friend.

His students’ cards and gifts, his coworkers speeches, and the whole performing arts community’s celebration of Dr. Dregalla highlighted just how important and influential he has been in this community. The orchestra is only a small part of the whole Milton community, but for the students who are a part of it, that experience is one of the most unique and special ones at this school. He genuinely cares for each student, but more than that, his passion for music and his desire to inspire students’ love in music truly makes a difference in not only individual students’ lives but in the whole community.

I have been a part of the orchestra since my freshman year, and coming into Milton, I hated playing the violin. However, Dr. Dregalla and the orchestra made me realize that I didn’t hate playing, I disliked the way I had been learning. Now, I look forward to orchestra class because I know that it is 45 minutes during which I can play my instrument, enjoy good music, and relax. Dr. Dregalla’s attitude has made me realize that playing an instrument can be whatever you want it to be — an hour and a half of fun each week, a serious daily commitment, or anywhere in between.

I have made friends I never would have met through orchestra, and we have bonded because of Dr. Dregalla. He truly does play an important role in each of his students’ lives, and he is one of the best role models I know. He has so much commitment to this school and to music. He built the enormous orchestra program we have today, and he changed the attitude towards music and the orchestra at Milton that will last for years to come. All of his students, myself included, will miss him and his presence in the Orchestra, but his commitment over the past years has left the program open to a prosperous future. Dr. Dregalla is so loved by every student and teacher he meets, from shy 6th grade musicians to alumni from years ago.

As much as Dr. Dregalla loves his students and this school, I know that he looks forward to retirement and to watching as much baseball as he can. The school, his students, his department, and I will miss him greatly, but his legacy will be everlasting at Milton.

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Posted by Olivia Risoleo on Jun 9 2017. Filed under More News, News, Recent News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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