Brandon High School Choral Director Marilyn Rose Nicholson retired in May after 22 years at the school. More than 150 former students came together to perform a surprise medley in her honor after the school's annual end of year concert.

When a favorite Brandon High School teacher retired last month, she was given the surprise of a lifetime by her former students.

Marilyn Rose Nicholson spent the last 22 years as Brandon High School’s (BHS) choral director and more than 150 alumni traveled from all over the country to join a surprise performance in her honor after the end of year concert on May 17.

Erin NeSmith, who was a member of Nicholson’s first BHS choral group 22 years ago, helped organize the performance as a way to pay tribute to the teacher who touched many lives in her time at the school.

“Mrs. Nicholson taught us so much more than music,” said NeSmith, who met her husband, Benjamin, in Nicholson’s music class in 1997. “We all wanted to do something to give back to her and show her how much she means to us.”

NeSmith began planning the event more than two years ago and used a Facebook page to reach out to the many students who wanted to pay tribute to Nicholson. During the surprise, which took place after the annual Looking Glass Concert in the high school’s auditorium, show choir students from every year since 1997 sang a medley of 22 songs in Nicholson’s honor.

“It was an event of my lifetime,” said Nicholson. “I am overwhelmed with the generosity and thoughtfulness and love of my wonderful Brandon students.”

Nicholson’s husband, who is also a chorus director, helped NeSmith and the other event organizers put together the surprise medley music and made a recording so that the singers from all over the country could learn the words since it was not possible for everyone to get together to rehearse before the event. Singers came from Georgia, Washington D.C., Texas, Rhode Island and California.

“The memories came flooding back,” said Nicholson, who lives in Riverview. “Seeing so many well-loved singers whom I haven’t seen in years and recognizing all of them, eventually.”

NeSmith is thrilled to have been able to put together such a successful tribute.

“She created a family,” said NeSmith. “It was an honor to show her how much we care.”

Brandon High School is located at 1101 Victoria St. and can be reached at 744-8120.

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Assignment Editor Kate Quesada started working at the Osprey Observer in 2004 after graduating from the University of South Florida with a masters degree in Mass Communications. Since then, she has held various positions at the paper and has been working as the assignment editor since January 2020. She lives in Lithia with her husband Mike and sons Dylan and Max and stays active in the community on school PTA boards and volunteering with local organizations.