Dec. 7, 2020
By Jude McElroy
In August, new band director Mr. Chwalyk was familiarizing himself with his new workspace at the high school. As he was digging through some drawers, he said he came across a stack of old programs from past concerts, commencements and ceremonies dating back to 1945.
“What ended up happening [is that] the band director at that time kept all of the programs,” Chwalyk said. “Then, when the next band director came in and inherited all of the files, they just kept adding to it.”
Chwalyk decided to scan these programs and then created a digital archive so they would be easily accessible to everyone interested in viewing them. He posted a link to this collection on the Vintage Lyndhurst Facebook page.
“I said [to myself], ‘Okay, now this is getting kind of historic, and these really shouldn’t be sitting in the back of a file drawer.’ I thought that people deserved to see them,” Chwalyk said.
He reached out to the staff at the Lyndhurst Historical Society to ask if they would be interested in adopting the collection. On Aug. 26, he made a special delivery to the Lyndhurst Historical Society’s location at the “Little Red Schoolhouse” on 400 Riverside Avenue and handed over the 55 programs he had scanned.
Chwalyk—who started in the district a decade ago as the band director working with sixth, seventh and eighth-grade students—said he has always been aware that Lyndhurst is a town that takes pride in its student activities. That is why he said he felt compelled to make these documents available to the public so quickly and why he believes the programs are so important to the town’s history.
Chwalyk said after word got out about his scanning project and donation, he began getting messages from people he did not even know. He said that is when he realized just how much these programs meant.
“There was a woman who lost their uncle [in World War II]. He was drafted right out of high school,” Chwalyk said. “One program from  was literally the spring that he was drafted, so he played that concert, and then weeks later, he would leave for the war, and they would never hear from him again.”
Freshman Erick Vergara, who plays the flute in the marching band, said it was a good decision for Chwalyk to donate the programs.
“I believe that this can make a chain reaction. As time goes on, the people that received the donated programs will pass it on to other directors and inspire the minds of students for generations to come,” Vergara said.
He said Chwalyk has motivated him to think about the type of donation he could make to share his love of music.
Vergara said he aims to spread the word about the band to get more students involved in an organization that means so much to him.
“I have convinced one of my friends to join band next year after showing him the things we do as a band,” Vergara said.
Junior Alexis O’Rourke, who plays the saxophone in the jazz ensemble and marching band, said Chwalyk is an educator who consistently shares his love of music with his students.
“I said [to myself], ‘Okay, now this is getting kind of historic, and these really shouldn’t be sitting in the back of a file drawer.’ I thought that people deserved to see them.”
“Mr. Chwalyk is always a great role model and inspiration to his students. He teaches us right from wrong not only in the music world but also in real life. Anything Mr. Chwalyk does is for the benefit and happiness of others,” O’Rourke said.
O’Rourke and Vergara both said they plan to keep all of the programs from their performances in high school.
“Without a doubt, it is a representation of the music program’s hard work and dedication and brings great memories. It is something I plan on showing my kids one day for them to see me as who I was in high school,” O’Rourke said.
She said the programs are important because they serve as historical records and are a source of pride for the LHS community.
“The music program is a big part of Lyndhurst High School along with the program’s annual holiday and spring concerts. It will be an event that lives on for generations and generations to come,” O’Rourke said. “The programs are a beautiful memory of our accomplishments and as a recognition of our past alumni who have grown into great people.”