Mr Caruso



Wow -- I cannot believe this day is here -- so many memories of my last (almost) 20 years at Duke have been coming and going these last few months many wonderful memories -- 

First and foremost, Thank you to the students and parents for all of the support that you have given me with music initiatives in the classroom and with extra-curricular musical "projects" throughout my time at Duke. I will miss working with all of you and I will especially miss the smiles on students’ faces at the moment they understand a concept or can confidently display a musical skill -- especially when it comes about through a musical performance be it in class, or during a concert or a musical -- I’m always happiest making music and helping other people make music also. Thank you for these great opportunities . . . and there were many over the years.    

Thank you to the Staff at Duke -- you are all truly great!! -- from my first days at Duke in 2001 working with Mr. Lako and Ms. Oliveira (when I taught Phys. Ed) to Ms. Whaley, Mr. Kirkwood, Mr. Disera, Mr. Bouts (and Mr. Coady, Ms. Stotlemire and Mr. Toman and of course, Ms. Pierce who has been my "rock" since she has come to Duke!! I have enjoyed working with all of you. I have had such a terrific time singing and making music with my students and members of the parent community for our school musicals and other performances.  Together we have explored new musical pieces and it was so wonderful to see Musical "projects" grow and bloom into something absolutely wonderful -- especially our last 2 MUSICALS and EVERY concert that I have taken part in at Duke whether it was a Kindergarten Concert a Winter or Spring Concert or just jamming for the Holiday breakfasts or Fun fairs.

A special Thank you to the Duke SAC for all of the support you have given me over my time at Duke as well -- through supporting the Music program with the purchase of Guitars, Ukuleles and other Musical instruments that we use in our Duke Music Programs -- I always had a wonderful time providing music or A/V assistance for the Duke Fundraisers -- I think I played at almost every Holiday Breakfast (except one - in the last 15 years or so -- Thank you Ms. Pierce (and Mr. Kirkwood who also was part of that also) -- 

When I think of Duke's Music programs -- the culmination of the program was always Duke's Musical Concerts which began with Mr. Lako in my early days at Duke -- we worked well together and this set the stage for Duke's concerts to continue.   Along with this -- the seasonal caroling was also a highlight of our year -- one year we actually did every day for 2 weeks before winter winter break -- a little too much -- if I do say -- but always a treat for all involved!

In thinking about the Duke Music program in its entirety, I must send a thank you to Melanie Doane who was very instrumental (pun intended) and helped me get our classroom Ukulele program off the ground -- I learned so much from Melanie and her staff of Uschool (Cheryl, Trish and Jamie) to help my own ukulele teaching -- and it was always a highlight of our music concerts when Duke Ukes took the stage or we took students to Uke Day.  The ukuleles enriched Duke's Music program.

Regarding Duke's Guitar program -- I must send a shout out to Mr. Kirkwood who actually ordered Duke's first guitars when I was away on a leave a number of years ago -- when I returned -- Mr. Kirkwood and I worked together on Duke's first Guitar/Composition club -- and the next year I incorporated Guitar into my Grade 7/8 program -- always a highlight of my program especially on Guitar Club nights these last few years.

I think many of you know that one of my most favourite activities to do was work with Choir students -- especially my Senior Choir -- as I reminded them at almost every rehearsal -- I think singing in a choir is one of the most wonderful things that a young person can do -- and I was fortunate to hear so many great musical voices and see so many smiling faces singing as I mentioned above.  Speaking of choirs -- I must also thank Ms. Angie Law who has been our accompanist for the last few years -- who always keeps me on my toes especially around concert time -- and also thank you for your continuous and tireless work for Duke's Musicals, talent shows and Concert Production -- Another thank you goes out to Ms. Pierce for our numerous collaborations.  Another thank you goes out to Nicki Rudzik who was always a huge supporter of my music program and assisted with choirs, concerts, talent shows and our musical when her children attended Duke.  Duke's Music programs have been enriched so much through Duke's parent support.  Thank you . . . 

Thanks to all of the Duke staff who helped support Duke's Music program throughout my time at Duke! Without you, Duke's students would not have had the success in Music that they did.   There have been so many of you over the years who have stepped right up to Chaperone a class to adjust your schedules on such short notice or to step up and work on our Musicals, Concerts or class assemblies -- so great!!  I will miss working on school initiatives involving the ARTS with all of you -- so much . . . .  

As for me -- I will continue making music with my own musical projects, playing piano, studying Italian and enjoying my time with my dog!! 

In closing I would like to say to the students -- 

Keep making Music and singing as much as you can!! 

And to the parents -- 

Keep your children making music and singing as much as they can!! 

As many of my students have sung --

If we STAND TOGETHER . . . . we will sing forever . . . . side by side . .  Hope will find a way ... to our hearts"  J. Papouis

Thanks to the entire Duke community, -- students, parents, staff, musical colleagues, administrators and the greater community for many opportunities and many great years of making wonderful MUSIC at Duke!!

Mr. Caruso 

now officially retired

Here are some songs that I (and Ms. Pierce) did with my Senior Choir in the last couple of years -- but the songs speak well of the IMPORTANCE of SINGING and MUSIC!! . . . . and the important things in life -- "Don't It always seem to go that you don't know what you got 'til gone"  J. Mitchell -- I was fortunate enough to know all of the good things I had at Duke. and also Stand together -- If we Stand together . . . . we will sing together . . . HOPE will find a way to our Hearts. . . . . J. Papoulis

Duke of Connaught Combined Choir 2018 -- Big Yellow Taxi --  'Big Yellow Taxi' - Duke of Connaught Jr and Sr School #CBCMusicClass - YouTube

Stand Together -- Stand together (Jim Papoulis) - Youth Chorale of Central Minnesota Combined Ensembles - YouTube

We Will -- J. Papoulis -- "We Will" (Jim Papoulis) - Valley Middle School Choir Concert 2019 (DIRECTOR Amy Jo Cherner) - YouTube