Submitted by Tina Giannopoulos
My high school music teacher, Doug Shippey, recognized a talent in me that has changed my life. I was a very shy, quiet student who had returned to Canada as a refugee from Cyprus in 1974. I began taking strings as a music option in Gr. 7 and immediately fell in love with the violin. From the very beginning, I would spend as much time as I could practising. Within a year, I was good enough to join the high school orchestra despite being only in Gr. 8 at the time. By the time I entered Gr. 9, my music teacher knew that I needed to take private lessons. However, my parents couldn't afford it. So, rather than just let it go, he approached various organizations like the Lions Club and the Rotary Club for scholarships that would enable me to take lessons. I began in Gr. 10 and continued until the end of Gr. 13 at which time I auditioned and was accepted to 3 universities...despite only having started in Gr. 7. Throughout high school, Doug Shippey gave me opportunities to play not only in our high school orchestra, but with my city's community orchestra, in musicals, and in festivals. I credit my love of music to him! And, the best part was a couple of years ago when he conducted a concert with the Stratford Symphony, an orchestra I currently play with, and we were able to reconnect! We hugged, we cried, and I was able to thank him once again for everything he had done for me. I wouldn't be where I am today and enjoy the happiness that my music brings me without his kindness at a critical time in my life.