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Friends gather to wish Ken Arsenault a fond farewell

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Retiring HBMS and SES band director Ken Arsenault gets help from former students Greg and Matt Vesper as he gathers up his ties after guests used his extensive collection to measure the room.

Departing Hawthorne Brook Middle School band director Ken Arsenault receives a novelty washboard tie from friend and former mentor Dr. William B. Dederer, dean of the conservatory of music at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, during Ken’s recent retirement party.

TOWNSEND — On Jun 6, a retirement celebration was held for Ken Arsenault at the Devens Common Center. Family, friends, coworkers and students past and present joined Ken to celebrate his 27 years as band director and teacher for Hawthorne Brook Middle School and Squannacook Elementary School.

Ken and his guests were greeted with a music program performed by his past students, first a seven-member band directed by Michael Day, followed by a jazz ensemble. Those in attendance enjoyed a buffet dinner of roast beef or chicken, finished off with chocolate cake.

The evening was filled with proclamations, speakers and gifts. Dr. Pamela Miller, principal of the Hawthorne Brook Middle School, presented a proclamation from state Sen. Robert A. Antonioni, while Fredrick Wheeler from the North Middlesex Regional School District presented a proclamation from state Rep. Robert Hargraves.

The first speaker of the evening was Dr. William B. Dederer, dean of the conservatory of music at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Dederer is Ken’s former trumpet instructor and long-time friend who shared stories and memories of their time together as both student/teacher and as friends.

Kevin Tellier, band director and teacher at Nissitissit Middle School and Ken’s wife, Theresa, followed Dr. Dederer. Theresa shared stories of Ken as the dedicated and enthusiastic teacher and band director. She then spoke of Ken’s tie collection, for which he is famous, and gave the audience and unexpected insight. From a bag she had brought up on the stage, she pulled forth handfuls of neckties, all sorted by category (i.e. professional, concert, holiday, teacher) and pinned together. Next, she solicited help from the audience in determining how far a rope made from the ties would go around the room. The ties completed almost two full circuits of the function room.

Gifts were presented by Sharon Paquette and Donna Kenyon for the HBMS Sunshine Club, from Mike Caravella on behalf of all those celebrating Ken’s contributions, and from Bill Pothier, who presented a journal of personal comments and accolades. The program concluded with recognitions from Dr. Mary Waight, associate superintendent and James McCormick, superintendent of the North Middlesex regional school district.

The evening concluded with Ken taking the podium to express his appreciation for a moving and joyous celebration.

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