Choir students at Rocky Mountain High School knew, when you were in Barbara Lueck’s class, you were with family.
“We called her ‘Mama Lu’ for a reason,” said Doug Usher, a 2000 Rocky graduate. “She was there for you inside and outside the classroom and you could go to her anytime with anything and she would be there, she would listen. She embodies that spirit of what we all want teachers to be.”
So when her former students found out the beloved choir director had cancer, they knew there was only one thing to do.
More than 50 alumni spanning two decades reunited on the Rocky theater stage to record a special version of "Seasons of Love" from the musical "Rent."
The idea came out of Facebook group of former Rocky choir students, Usher said. Initially, the idea was to go to her home and sing to her. But then it was decided that it would be too overwhelming for Lueck, who at the time was undergoing chemotherapy for leiomyosarcoma, a rare, soft-tissue cancer.
When she saw the video of the students, Lueck said she was definitely overwhelmed, and happily so.
“It was just amazing that that many former students would have given that time out of their busy lives to come together and do that,” said Lueck, who taught music in Fort Collins for 30 years. She retired in 2004.
Her only regret: Not being able to be there that day with all the “kids,” as she still lovingly calls them, to hear their stories of high school choir and to meet their children.
Usher, a local filmmaker from Fort Collins who shot the video, said he remembers Lueck as an incredible educator who brought out the best in her students.
“Getting up for school was not always the easiest thing,” he said. “But her energy in the classroom made everybody want to be there.”
The video has since gone viral with more than 300,000 views. Lueck said she thinks both the video and the response to it speak to the power of music.
“Music is a place to belong in high school, any arts group is just a family, a place to belong,” she said. “And it certainly proved to be that for those kids and for all of us! We had a great time.”
As to her influence, Lueck is modest.
“I think it proves that (with) teaching you really don’t know what kind of an influence you’re going to have 20 years later. So, you just do your best. And it was amazing that it’s gone as far as it has.”