Kathy Dreiling-Amrein’s 40-year teaching career comes to an end in a few short months, a career highlighted by the annual Thomas More Prep-Marian Pop Singers Dinner Show.
More memories were made as Amrein’s 19th year as the TMP show’s director finished with three weekend performances. Amrein admitted it was an emotional time.
“I knew it was going to be hard,” Amrein said after Sunday’s matinee in Dreiling Theater. “I wanted to incorporate as many kids as I could that would be a part of this.”
Invitations were sent out to former Pop Singers and Amrein said song selections for “Blasts From The Past” had to come from songs previously performed. The playbill listed which former singer had sung a selected song, and in what year.
Near the end of each performance Amrein was thanked by her singers and in turn she thanked them. While onstage Saturday night, she was surprised as several of her former Pop Singers each handed her a white rose.
“It was the most powerful moment I’ve felt on this stage,” senior Pop Singer Lane Werth said. “Seeing all these people from her very first show choir, each giving her a rose — it was the first time I’ve ever seen Kathy Amrein speechless.”
After being presented a plaque and signed playbill Saturday, Amrein serenaded her singers with “Sometimes” by The Carpenters. With her voice not allowing her to sing Sunday, Amrein read the lyrics from Michael W. Smith’s song, “Friends.”
“You will always be special,” Amrein said. “This is my last group.”
Amrein’s former singers flocked to Hays from far and wide, from Oregon to California; about 60 attended one of the three performances. One of them, Jacinta Stecklein, who graduated in 2005, traveled from Kansas City, Mo., for Sunday’s performance. Being a Pop Singer helped Stecklein overcome her shy nature.
“It was getting over my stage fright, more than anything,” Stecklein said with a laugh. “Definitely helped me break out of my shell a little bit.”
Senior Maggie Speno, like Werth in her fourth year as part of the competitive choir, said Amrein always has been supportive.
“She helped me by building my confidence and what song to pick to step out of my comfort zone,” Speno said. “When you do that, you become better.”
“She’s always there, no matter what you want to do,” he said. “No matter what you come to her with, she’s supportive, whether that’s Pop Singers or everyday life.”
After finishing student teaching, Amrein wasn’t sure about a career in the education field. She considered being a liturgist. Still looking for a job as fall came around, Amrein’s mother said she should teach. Amrein ended up teaching in area public school systems for 21 years before taking a job as band and vocal director at TMP in 2001. Now, after state competition later this spring and the Pop Singers’ trip to Florida to perform at Disney World, the final curtain comes down.
“This is hard to say goodbye to, but I’ve had 40 years of having everything I’ve wanted,” she said. “It’s been great.”
Assistant Director Alexandra Rome will take over as Pop Singers director in the fall. In retirement, Amrein plans to spend time with her grandchildren as well as participate in community choir and orchestra. She also wants to employ musical therapy to help those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
Amrein also plans on substitute teaching at TMP. Once a teacher, always a teacher.