FORT SMITH (KFSM)-- A local high school choir director conducted his final concert on Tuesday (May 10), and some of his former students gave him a big surprise.
After 39 years as Northside High School's choir director, Bill Cromer took the stage one final time.
“Having a chance to work with the kids and seeing them improve from the time they come to Northside until they graduate is the ultimate,” Cromer said.
Every year at the spring concert, Cromer asks alumni to join in and sing the final song and usually only a few show up.
“I'm very excited in the fact that i just got done meeting some former choir students that were from the class of 1982,” Cromer said. “They came back for this, and one of them even drove in from Memphis. Tonight's kind of going to be more like a class reunion.”
But, Mr. Cromer had no idea just how many of his former students had come to sing with him.
“We came back tonight because Mr. Cromer played such a huge role in all of our lives,” Nicole Franklin, a student from the class of 2004, said. “He was like a mentor, a father figure.”
Franklin said students from nearly every decade Cromer has taught joined in the last song.
“I hope it shows him just how much he meant to us because as an educator myself, I know that knowing what we do for kids is so important, and so I hope he realizes what a big role he played,” Franklin said.
Cromer said after all his years of teaching, the concert will be one he remembers forever.
“It's the biggest gift, it's the biggest thank you, congratulations, good luck that they could possibly do,” Cromer said.
Cromer’s current students dedicated a tree in his honor that will be planted in front of the high school at the end of May.