LYNN — In what was a fitting farewell to someone who has been a champion of the arts, retiring school superintendent Dr. Catherine C. Latham was honored with a musical tribute by Lynn Public Schools students Friday night at Lynn English.
There were performances by the fifth-grade choirs of Harrington, Sisson and Shoemaker elementary schools, led by music teachers Cynthia Altsman, Lisa Moriarty and Julie Carroll; the all-city middle school strings group, Mona Rashad conductor; Breed Middle School choir, Abigail Cassell conductor and James Cassell accompanist; LPS all-city high school orchestra, Etleva Hima-Buli conductor, assisted by Kassie Snowden; Lynn English concert choir, Jorge Ibanez conductor; and all-city high school concert band, James L’Italien and Jeremy Witherell conductors.
“You’re in a category by yourself,” said Deputy Superintendent Dr. Patrick Tutwiler, Latham’s successor, who served as emcee. “You have been a giant in educational leadership and an inspiration to young people and your colleagues alike. Your contributions will never be forgotten.”
Interspersed with the musical selections were several presentations, highlighted by GE Communications, Media and Community Relations Manager Rich Gorham’s announcing a $5,000 donation to the LPS music department in honor of Latham.
Mayor Thomas M. McGee spoke of Latham’s “real passion for and understanding of students. You have changed lives in this community and had a real impact and the ability to make a difference every day in a very challenging job.”
Latham has served as superintendent since 2009, after spending the previous three years as deputy superintendent. She taught math for more than 20 years in Peabody and Lynn — at Breed Middle School and Lynn English — before moving to central administration as a school support specialist in 2002.
“I am overwhelmed,” said an emotional Latham, who had insisted she did not want a traditional retirement party and only agreed to the musical tribute because it would feature students. She chose English as the venue because she is a proud alumna (Class of 1963).
“It’s been an honor, a privilege and a pleasure to serve Lynn Public Schools,” she said. “I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the end of my career than by having our truly gifted students showcase their incredible talent. This night was a treasure.”
For a real gem.