Red Mountain’s Band Director, Mr. Wedge passed away on his birthday, Sept. 24, 2016 after a long and courageous battle with cancer. “Mr. Wedge changed my life forever,” junior and saxophone player Anthony Franco said. “When I wanted to give up, he pushed me forward and encouraged me to keep trying.”
Mr. Wedge was classified as one of the top 50 band directors to make a difference in December of 2015 by School Band and Orchestra Magazine. Mr. Wedge also was a director of the off-campus Arizona youth jazz group “Young Sounds,” a professional trombonist and President of the Arizona Association for Jazz Education.
“Mr. Wedge changed my life forever. When I wanted to give up, he pushed me forward and encouraged me to keep trying.”
– Anthony Franco
“Since the first day of this fight, he has been nothing but positive, determined and focused on his students,” Principal Ryan said. “Not one conversation ever went by that Vince did not ask about the students or provide thoughts on ways to continue building one of the premier performing arts departments in the state.”
Mr. Wedge dedicated his time to teaching students at Red Mountain for 15 years. Many students feel thankful for the lessons they learned from him.
“One of the lessons that he taught me in life was that it doesn’t really matter how good you are at something,” senior and saxophone player Grace Heffernon said. “What matters is the fact that you are with other people and just enjoying life together.”
During his time at Red Mountain, Mr. Wedge left everyone a special memory.
“Besides his fun ‘Vince Wedge Chuckle’ and rosy cheek smile, he is so passionate about his own sweet family. I will never forget him directing the pit orchestra of Beauty and the Beast. In that moment, tears fell down his face because it reminded him of his beautiful daughters as children loving to dress up as princesses.”
– Mr. Johnston
When asked by School Band and Orchestra Magazine how he wanted to make a difference in his students’ lives, Mr. Wedge’s responded that he hoped “to provide a link from their teen to adult years. A consistent, caring musical mentor.”
The students are remembering Mr. Wedge with kind messages on social media and cards in the auditorium. A memorial was held at the Mesa Community College Performing Arts Center on the evening of Sept. 28, which welcomed all students and staff members to visit.
“Mr. Wedge changed my life forever,” junior and saxophone player Anthony Franco said. “When I wanted to give up, he pushed me forward and encouraged me to keep trying.”
During the week of Sept. 26 – 30, the office played Mr. Wedge’s favorite song, “Unchain My Heart” by Ray Charles, in between class periods for sweep music.
Representing Red Mountain pride with each performance, Mr. Wedge gave it his all. Mr. Wedge will be missed dearly and will continue to live on through the hearts of Red Mountain students.
For an update on a memorial put in place for Mr. Wedge click here.
(Featured photo courtesy of Southwest Portraits.)