Mr. Fisher-An Unforgettable Teacher

By Janet Janson Kemp, Class of’71

I so appreciate the talent and time it took to put the website together. It has allowed all of Mr. Fisher’s students to share in the grieving of an outstanding man. It has also awakened our memories of fond times that left an imprint on us for the rest of our lives.

How does one man make such an impression on so many? I thought long and hard about the experiences I had in drill team and band, as well as the comments of others. Mr. Fisher helped all of us develop an “Attitude”. Where ever we went, whether it was performing at state basketball competitions, the Lilac Parade, the Rose Bowl Parade, etc., we all thought we were good. We were good because we practiced hard, our leader expected the very best out of us and we did not want to disappoint him. Mr. Fisher instilled in us the desire to be perfect—to have flawless routines, to play songs that sounded really good. He instilled in us the desire to make our community proud of us—which was represented by many hardworking parents who sewed uniforms, chaperoned trips and helped with fundraisers. Deer Park supported the band program, in fact, more than a third of the student body was in band and drill team. We sold so much Almond Roca to get to Pasadena. I think every house had candy in their home, by the time it was done.

The fact that Mr. Fisher did not shy away from making big plans and taking large numbers of us kids to places we had never been before was amazing! I know there were many of us who had never been on a plane, when we boarded one in December of 1969 to head to Pasadena to perform in the Rose Bowl Parade. It was an extraordinary adventure to take buses over the Going to the Sun high way in Glacier Park, as we headed to Calgary. Not only did Mr. Fisher have to manage all the students and drill team, he had to keep the chaperones in check, too. What a huge task that now, as a school administrator, I see nothing short of a miracle for him to accomplish!

I fondly remember the silver Woollensack tape player that Mr. Fisher used for us to practice our drill team performances with. It got packed a lot of places, along with the blue Antlerettes suitcase. During second quarter of the basketball games, the drill team girls would head out and get changed and warm up, practice the routine in the hallway, say a prayer (it started with “Now I lay me down to sleep…I don’t know why we started it with that, but then we went on to our needs and wants for the performance—let’s hope no one’s wiglet comes off!). During our practices, Mr. Fisher would get so excited with some of the moves, we often wondered if he would do the splits too! He had great talent for choreographing our routines. Uniforms were meticulous and we used gallons of hair spray to make sure no hair moved out of place. He wanted us to have trim figures. We did not want to be seen with an ice cream bar, or something fattening. I think I still feel guilty about eating an ice cream bar!

Mr. Fisher always seemed to have a song in his head, the gears were cranking and the creativity was flowing! The jangling of his keys as he went down the hallway usually had a rhythm to it, too.

He wanted us all to have high kicks and flat splits! We worked hard for this and even in the Rose Bowl Parade, us High Steppers did the splits, high kicks and walkovers over the course of the whole parade. The song “Swanee” will always bring back those good memories. Once in the grocery store when his daughter Brooke was about 12, he told her, “Brooke, show Janet how high you can kick.” Brooke said, “Oh, Dad, not here.” But then he continued to look at her and the next thing you know, she is giving us a very high kick in the store! He was so proud of her.

As a drill team member, the Boise competition was so important to us. Each year, we tried to be better, and wanted to get a trophy. In my senior year, April, 1971, we were able to get a fourth place trophy. I will always remember Mr. Fisher coming onto the bus, telling us how proud he was that we finally won a trophy and that “Now, I know we are on the right track!”. In future years, the drill went on to be better than we could ever have imagined and we were so proud of them.

Yes, Mr. Fisher gave us an attitude. We thought we were as good as he expected us to be. I hope that through the years, we didn’t disappoint him. We can never repay him for the experiences he gave us. We also acknowledge the sacrifice by his family for the times he was not at home. They were always so supportive.

Mr. Fisher loved music and dance—he lived it and made us love it, too. I know that, aside from my family, he was the most influential person in my life. I gained confidence through performing and it helped me accomplish many things in my life. I will never forget him and will be sad next summer, when he is not at the Settlers Parade. Mr. Fisher always had my greatest respect because he exemplified dignity and the right way to present yourself. I always wanted to make him proud of my performance and felt the satisfaction when I worked hard and it all came together. I count being the drill team captain as one of the top honors I ever had in my life and thank him for the opportunity. The influence of one teacher’s life goes on from generation to generation—there is no end to the effects his hard work and dedication had on the community and students.

Thank you for all you did for us.


One thought on “Mr. Fisher-An Unforgettable Teacher

  1. robfisher

    It was so true that Dad always had a song in his head. He would dream up the next Drill Team routine while on the road. Many times he would have most of the next year show in his head on the trip back from Boise. Everyday he would sit down and play the music on his “baby grand” to see if it would work.

    He had the next couple of shows in his head for his Good Time Singers group he was the director for down in Mesa. He lived and breath music and dance.

    Thanks for the memory of Brooke’s high kicks. I had forgotten the inpromtu high kicks. I bet there one heck of a kick line where Dad is now!

    Thanks Janet and I look forward to seeing you in this month and summer.


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