Growing up in a small New England town with a high school that graduates only around 200 kids a year you would think that you might only have one, maybe two artistically famous graduates in an entire generation.  This is not the case if you graduated from Longmeadow High School and were influenced by the most incredible Music and Arts program ever.

I was a moderately mediocre saxophonist in our stationary-marching band and loved to be on stage for the more humorous Woody Allen ‘one-act’ plays just to hear a crowd laugh.  It was difficult navigating my own talents. In our graduating class we had Nationally Recognized musicians, actors, and singers. Heck, I was the cousin and nephew of two very accomplished musicians.  My 3-year-older uncle, Mark Thomas, who I walked the halls with, was the biggest ‘Rock-Star’ around. (At the Time)
With a little bit of acrobatic talent I went on to become a traveling ‘Carni’ in a circus and stage show that traveled to just about every county fair and amusement park all over the world.  While traveling the world (before this internet ‘thingy’ was infinitely accessible) I started seeing familiar faces on magazine covers, billboards, CD covers, TV, and movie screens.  These faces were the artists that participated in the arts program in my High School. You may have heard of actress/model Bridgette Moynahan and of course my favorite “Patriot Rock Star” Aaron Lewis.

As I traveled on places like hotels in carmel by the sea and thought about where my life should go I was guided by just a few influential educators and their life lessons.  Especially when pondering the possibility of actually living as a performer, out of a back-pack for the rest of my life.  Why not, I was obviously in good company?  Thanks to realistic grounded thought and truthful talent navigation (unlike many of our favorite 1st week American Idol contestants) my non-artistic life path I credit to one High School Arts Program.

The two most influential sources of guidance in my life were not teachers with text books, clergy with spiritual guidance, athletic coaches, or even college professors… they were my music teachers, Michael Mucci and Peter Thomsen.

With their love for the arts I experienced education, that sadly my children will never see.  The way the world expands in the hands of a positive teacher of the arts and the impact it has on the entire world, as these men and women nurture talent, is priceless.  Please support the arts and thank a Music Teacher for grounding and guiding the future impact of superstars and patriots like Aaron Lewis every chance you get.

Watch Aaron’s video and see how grounded and giving one of the “Super Stars” from my very own high school is, in his quest to give back.

AMPed – Aaron Lewis Interview

Aaron Lewis “Country Boy” on SIRIUS XM The Wilkow Majority


-Damon Ladd-Thomas

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