Oak Bay High theatre honours teacher

New state-of-the-art theatre will officially become the Dave Dunnet Community Theatre

The wall above Dave Dunnet’s head will soon be emblazoned with his name

Oak Bay High’s new state-of-the-art theatre will officially become the Dave Dunnet Community Theatre to honour the legendary band director.

“He’s a pretty amazing man,” says current Oak Bay High teacher Tina Horwood, a former student of Dunnet’s. “He inspired a whole generation of people, not just in music.”

An Oak Bay High alumnus, Dunnet’s leadership and dedication inspired excellence among band students that led to highly regarded success in concert, festival, sport and parade performances in Canada and 17 other countries. Dunnet, who graduated from Oak Bay High in 1958, is the only individual inducted into the school’s hall of fame for both athletics (as a ‘builder’) and fine arts.

“It was all about kids. The music was good too,” adds Sandy King, another former Dunnet student. Both profess to still hold profound respect for the longtime Oak Bay High educator.

“It’s an impact that goes beyond the students,” Horwood says.

Dunnet led the school’s band program for 28 years from 1961 to 1992 and he taught more than music, according to both women. Dunnet taught them teamwork, commitment, perseverance, accountability and responsibility.

“I firmly believed … this really was about life and using music as a tool to teach so many other things,” Dunnet says.

Both Horwood and King – a longtime teacher at Mount Doug now retired – use his organization and teaching systems.

King recalls the effect her music teacher had on a day even a duck might call in sick.

A day like this, she says gesturing outside, to a the storm that knocked out power and flooded streets and homes around the region, she would get up and trudge to school.

“I remember getting up in the dark, going to school in the dark at 7:30 in the morning,” she said. “I turned from a grumpy teenager into a musician.”

It was a combination of the greeting, the warm and bright interior of the music building and a healthy respect for the teacher.

King has vivid memories of fundraising for the program, freezing in the fall weather and selling apples.

“We were dressed in our green blazers and white slacks,” she says. Dunnet recalls one of those “tag days” a limousine stopped and Oak Bay resident and then premier WAC Bennett got out and made a donation.

Dunnet, who started teaching part time at UVic before retiring from Oak Bay, is an emeritus faculty member at the university after a long, respected tenure as lecturer, teacher in residence, clinician and adjudicator. He finds the theatre bearing his name humbling.

“It’s really a very kind and pleasant thing and I’m grateful for it. Perhaps I’m a representative of the many, many performing arts teachers who have gone through here,” Dunnet said.

The induction ceremony and theatre dedication starts with a reception at 5:30 p.m.

At 6:15 p.m. special guests, alumni, faculty and the public will move to the theatre for the event that includes several performances from current fine arts students as well as an alumni band.

“I haven’t seen those in 24 years,” Dunnet says of the score for two songs he chose to have the alumni band perform – Totem Pole March and Canadian Folk Fantasy.

“One’s Canadian, eh,” he says with a humorous glint in his eye. “The other is Pacific Northwest.”

Horwood will conduct one song and King the other.

“We have people renting instruments and borrowing instruments,” Horwood said. Current students will augment the alumni band, bringing generations together.

The Nov. 27 festivities start at 5:30 p.m. for the grand opening of the Dave Dunnet Community Theatre at Oak Bay High School, 2151 Cranmore Rd.