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Musical memoriam

Middle schoolers join Swing Docs to raise money for scholarship in honor of local teacher

Bethlehem Middle School students practice for “Swing Night,” an event to raise funds for the Mary Jane Hughes Memorial Scholarship, on Monday, June 11.

Bethlehem Middle School students practice for “Swing Night,” an event to raise funds for the Mary Jane Hughes Memorial Scholarship, on Monday, June 11. Photo by Louis Varricchio.

— Mary Jane Hughes wanted nothing more than to teach her students how to make beautiful music and appreciate the craft for the rest of their lives, according to longtime friend and colleague Lynda Conway.

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A memorial scholarship has been established in the name of Mary Jane Hughes, a former music teacher at the Bethlehem Central School District, after she passed away in December.

Hughes, a music teacher for the district who focused on teaching string instrumentation lessons for 30 years, died in December after a battle with cancer. Now, a memorial scholarship has been created in her name, and some former students are working to contribute to her legacy.

On Monday, June 11, Bethlehem Middle School students will give their second performance with local big band and swing group The Swing Docs. The profits from the event will go toward the Mary Jane Hughes Memorial Scholarship, which is given to a Bethlehem senior pursuing music as a career.

“Dr. Richard Uhl helps run The Swing Docs, and he thought we had a really talented group of students this year,” said Conway, who directs the middle school Drama Club. “He asked if we would like to do another show with The Swing Docs, and we said, ‘O.K., but let’s do it as a fundraiser for Mary Jane Hughes.’”

Katie Daly, the assistant director of the Drama Club, said many of the students had Hughes as a teacher.

“This is like the last group of students who would have had her as a teacher,” Daly said of the eighth-graders performing. “We wanted to recognize Mary Jane as part of our community here at the middle school while there were still students present.”

The performance will include a mixture of swing and big band music, as well as some favorite show tunes. Nearly 50 middle school students will perform with the band, with solo numbers to be done by both groups. Some numbers to expect include “Mack the Knife,” and “The Nicest Kids in Town,” from the hit Broadway musical “Hairspray.”

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