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Longtime Greeley Music Educator Calls it a Career After 44 Years

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By Anna Carpinelli

Horace Greeley High School music teacher wraps up a long and rewarding career this week, having been a constant at the school for more than four decades.

After 44 years of teaching music at Horace Greeley High School, Dr. Raymond Lucia is putting down his baton this week.

Since learning of an open position at the Chappaqua school in The New York Times ad listings as a postgraduate student, Lucia has dedicated himself to the district, most specifically the Performing Arts Department.

From a very early age, Lucia knew he wanted to be a musical instructor. In elementary school, he drew great satisfaction from playing in the band, finding it exciting and challenging, which he largely attributed to the inspiring educators that he had.

Lucia persevered and pursued his passion despite receiving pushback from his parents. He had also taken several collegiate business courses in case a music career didn’t work out.

He has been the band director at Greeley, has taught AP Music Theory and has led two concert ensembles – the jazz band and the pep band. He is well-liked among the student body, not only as a friendly face but also as a respected influence.

“He learns from them, and they learn from him. It’s never ‘I’m better than you because I’m a teacher,’” said Kathleen Feldman, orchestra director and Performing Arts Department chair. “He gets right in there with the students. It’s just a nice environment he creates in and out of the classroom.”

When asked why he chose to stay so long, Lucia cited the students as his motivation. He explained that it’s not the same job every year; there are always new students with different specialties and challenges, and embracing that renews Lucia’s desire to teach.

He also highlighted the importance of choosing appealing music for his students to play. Not only does the music have to showcase different styles and student abilities, it also has to remain intriguing to those performing it.

Lucia shared that he recently chose pieces from Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie,” as contemporary music often has a wider appeal.

“I think that the key to a good program is the engagement of (the) kids. And that’s finding good music,” he said.

Lucia will leave a substantial legacy for the Horace Greeley community.

“Forty years. You have to think about that span. If you were born between the years of 1963 and 2009, you could have had Dr. Lucia as your band teacher. And that is just incredible, to think of it that way,” Feldman said.

However, Lucia’s legacy extends beyond the district. Having taught thousands of students throughout the decades, he is most gratified to learn that alumni are still practicing music or appreciating it in some manner.

“I think what’s been most gratifying is hearing from students who’ve graduated, who joined marching bands in college, who are still playing, still gigging,” Lucia said. “I think with this school – this highly academic school – you don’t have a lot of kids becoming music majors. But, if there’s still a love for music, or they still play, that’s the important thing.”

When reflecting on his career, Lucia described it as rejuvenating.

“You know, the funny thing about high school is the kids never change, but you’re getting older and older. It’s a really weird phenomenon. Maybe in that way it keeps you young.”

Lucia continuously presents a strong adaptability and curiosity for new things. Over a decade ago, he founded his own instrument oil company, Fat Cat Instrument Oil, amid dissatisfaction with the current products on the market. In a similar fashion, despite never previously showing an interest, Lucia earned a commercial driver’s license during the pandemic, just in case the opportunity to drive a commercial truck arose.

“He’s the type of person who never stops,” Feldman said. “He’ll always find something to do.”

In retirement, one thing is certain: Raymond Lucia will continue to be a lifelong learner, with or without the classroom as his backdrop.



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