Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Jane Lanning (right), retired music and drama teacher, stands by her former student and colleague, Lisa Froelich, who planned the surprise event.

Lanning Celebrated After 25 Years of Service

By Merle Poirier

Spencerville Adventist Academy (SAA) held its Alumni Weekend earlier this year. Alumni Sabbath included a church service filled with music from former bell ringers and choir members, and a sermon by Jim Zeismer, a retired pastor and former SAA Bible teacher. Other traditional alumni events took place that afternoon and evening, but with one addition. The school recognized a teacher who has been part of the high school program since its inception: Jane Lanning. After 35 years of teaching at SAA, Lanning is retiring. During her tenure, she not only taught classroom music, choir and bells but also introduced the drama program to SAA during the 1999–2000 school year.

Alumna Lisa Froelich (’10), a current colleague of Lanning in the Music Department, planned a surprise event that involved former graduates to return to reprise their original roles in some of the 25 drama productions Lanning directed since the first one in 2000.

The surprise began in the SAA auditorium where Lanning was invited to close out the Sabbath by directing the alumni choir for the first time in almost 20 years. Following this performance, a stunned Lanning was led to the front row to watch the alumni perform songs from previous drama productions with props and costumes. A narration connected one performance to the next, telling the story of how drama came to be a tradition at SAA—all because of Lanning’s vision.

“Being in Mrs. Lanning’s plays was my best memory from high school. It was so amazing to be on stage again with many familiar faces,” says Daisy Gibb (’05).

The night concluded with one last goodbye, featuring the entire alumni cast singing “So Long, Farewell,” from Lanning’s first drama, The Sound of Music. “We appreciate that we had the chance to be on stage with her one final time to say thank you for everything she gave to her students. It was a night that will be remembered by all,” says Candace Child (’03).

“What I loved most was the pure joy on everyone’s faces,” shares Froelich. “Looking around the room, all one could see were smiles and laughter, mixed with some nostalgic tears. Her legacy isn’t just what she taught or her personal impact but also how it brought us together.”

Other alumni agree: “Mrs. Lanning’s programs gave us life skills we use to this day. She always put God first and was a role model,” says Eric Malcolm (’04). Juliana Baioni (’08) praises, “I cannot express how much gratitude I hold for Mrs. Lanning. My life and career were heavily influenced by her.”

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