ADAMS TWP — Three Mars School District teachers took nearly 95 years of experience with them when they retired at the end of the school year. Ron Molinaro, a chorus teacher at the middle school and orchestra director at the high school, middle school and Centennial School, retired with 35 years. Victoria Georgic, a music teacher at the elementary school, retired after 32.5 years. Suzanne Olszewski, an English teacher at the high school, retired after 27 years at Mars.
Molinaro started the orchestra program at Mars in 1996 after his son, a student at the middle school, wanted to play his violin in a school group.
“My son was involved with orchestra, and he didn't have a place where he could perform (at school,)” Molinaro said.
After finding a small group of other middle school students who played strings, Molinaro began meeting with the students after school.
“It just grew and grew,” he said.
Mars now boasts string programs in the middle and high schools as well as the Centennial School.
Molinaro is also proud of hosting the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association Regional Orchestra Festival in March 2012. During that three-day event, 162 high school students from 55 school districts in the western half of the state came to the Mars campus.
The special guest conductor was Baylor University (Texas) professor Michael Alexander, who conducts Baylor's symphony as well as the Waco Youth Symphony and the Houston Youth Symphony.
“That was pretty cool,” Molinaro said.
He also enjoyed accompanying the students as they sang Christmas carols around Mars each year.
Molinaro said the administrators and school board members over the past 35 years have been extremely supportive of all the programs he's done.
He said he plans on continuing to play music in the Pittsburgh area in addition to spending time with his wife, children and grandchildren, plus his 97-year-old mother.
Georgic said the major change at Mars over her 32 years is the switching of grade levels between buildings and the construction of buildings.
She said in years past, all elementary buildings housed students in grades one through five. Then the students in kindergarten through grade two were moved to a primary center in Mars, which is now Woodland Valley Church.
Students in grades three through five were disbursed among Adams and Middlesex elementaries, with the latter school eventually being closed to students and used as office space for certain administrators.
Also, the district added the elementary school — originally the primary center — and the Centennial School since she began there.
“And all the buildings now have a real music room,” Georgic said. “When I first started, I was sharing a room and going into the classrooms (to teach music.) There were even times when I was pushing a cart.”
Georgic named as a memorable moment at Mars the instance in which she taught the child of a past student.
“I convinced her she wanted to pursue music for the rest of her life,” Georgic said.
She said student trips to the Pittsburgh Symphony were also a highlight for her.
Georgic plans to continue as music director at her church, Meridian United Presbyterian, where she has held the position for 10 years. She will also read and travel.
One of Olszewski's defining moments at Mars was when a former student was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in journalism after writing about a large power blackout in the northeast.
“I was very, very proud,” Olszewski said.
But she had a difficult time choosing a single event as a defining moment at Mars.
“There are so many because the kids I have had are really, really wonderful,” Olszewski said. “They really work hard for me. I really don't have any complaints.
“They touched my heart every year,” she said.
Olszewski said Mars students have gone on to succeed as doctors and lawyers as well as the hairdressers and mechanics who residents see every day. That aspect of teaching is one of her favorites.
“It's wonderful to see how much they have grown into being productive citizens, no matter where they are,” she said.
She recalled one former student who now works as an editor at a book publishing company in New York City.
“Mars has nothing to hang its head over,” Olszewski said.
Regarding administrators and school board members, Olszewski also has appreciated them over the years.
“I think all of them really wanted what is best for the kids,” she said.