Physical education teacher Mike DeAngelis may have retired in June but, to his former colleagues at Bethlehem Central School District, near Albany, he was there in spirit for the 2016-17 staff opening day in August.
The Bethlehem Central Teachers Association retiree wrote and recorded the song, “I am an Eagle,” to help educators kick off the new school year. The district’s mascot is an eagle.
Accompanied by images of students, faculty and parents — pulled together by district communications specialist Jo Ellen Gardner — the presentation was a hit.
“I was hoping it would be something special for the teachers coming back this year,” said DeAngelis, who was out of town for the showing, fearing “he might get too emotional.”
Moments after the screening, DeAngelis’ phone “lit up” with thanks from friends as he drove along the Massachusetts Turnpike. “I’m pretty proud of it. I wasn’t trying to do anything super great, I just wanted people to know what my years there, as a student and as a teacher, meant to me, and the importance of family and friends.”
DeAngelis, who wrote, performed, co-produced and played acoustic guitar on the piece, was joined on the song by Rob Lindquist, piano/keyboard, Albany Public School Teachers Association; Ed Tourge, bass guitar, APSTA retiree; Scott Apicelli, drums; and recording engineers Ace Parkhurst and Eddie Hotaling. “All the guys are either teachers, retired teachers or Bethlehem graduates,” said DeAngelis.
Since the initial showing, several teachers have asked to use the song for future graduations, and a music teacher is developing an arrangement of “I Am An Eagle” for the choir. “It’s already surpassed anything I would have imagined,” said DeAngelis. “I just meant it as a gift for everyone.”