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The Appleton Blog features one of America's
best communities: Appleton, Wisconsin.

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Sunday, December 06, 2009


Magical Experience at the Classical School Holiday Dinner

The Classical School, a public charter school in Appleton focused on academic excellence, had its annual holiday dinner for staff last night. I was there with my wife who now teaches math and music there. The dinner was at one of the nicest venues in the Valley, the North Shore Country Club, thanks to a Board member who is a member of the Club. Beautiful setting, great food (one of the few places that can cook salmon just right, not overcooked and dry), and excellent service.

The real highlight of the evening was musical. Throughout the first part of the evening, we had some terrific piano music in the background courtesy of Dan Dinkler, the impressive musical director of Appleton Alliance Church. Dan also accompanied Peter Leschke, another Classical School supporter, as Peter sang some Christmas songs. (More about Peter in a moment.) I saw Dan in action recently at one of the most beautiful and touching funerals I've ever attended, the funeral for Bruce Paynter, a highly respected and beloved leader at Kimberly-Clark who truly cared about people and following God. Dan's work of ministry and music at the funeral added much to that tremendous event. But I had heard of Dan before that event. During a random encounter at the Performing Arts Center in Appleton, a couple I met volunteered how much they loved attending the Alliance Church, partly because of the talented and inspiring worship pastor, Dan Dinkler. This was my first time chatting with him in person. After sharing his musical gifts so freely and humbly, I was very grateful and happy to share my gratitude for that, and for the other positive things he does for the community.

A deeply touching moment came after Peter and Dan performed some holiday songs. Peter Leschke, creative arts director for Christ the Rock church in Appleton, shared an original song he composed to thank the Classical School for the way they are changing the lives of children. He played the piano as he sang. It was a powerful, sincere song that drew a lot of moist eyes and a standing ovation. A wonderful reminder of how teachers and schools can shape lives for good. The song will be recorded and made available sometime soon, hopefully on YouTube. Stay tuned!

Appleton Alliance and Christ the Rock are, I believe, the two largest churches in the Valley. How wonderful that leading talent from both were there for the Classical School, sharing their talents and lifting our hearts.

Just another classical Appleton moment. This is such a terrific community to live in, such a great place to raise a family, such a good place for children to learn and grow. Many thanks to the talented teachers in this area and the many other staff members and parent volunteers that make education so successful in this wonderful valley.