“Music was his life,” says LHHS band director Jeff Bradford of his former student, Jack Stewart. “He never bragged about how good he was at his instrument, as he was very quiet, but rather he just played and let the instrument speak for itself.”
It’s fitting, then, that music is the medium being used to honor Stewart, whose life was cut short by a car crash this past July. The LHHS 2013 salutatorian was just about to begin his sophomore year at Baylor University. Both Baylor and the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra dedicated concerts to his memory this fall, and the Lake Highlands High School band dedicated every halftime performance of the 2014 football season to Stewart.
Stewart was an accomplished clarinetist and was section chair his senior year at LHHS. In 2011 judges unanimously selected him as the grand prize winner of the Lone Star Winds Orchestra Youth Winds concerto competition.
Bradford says Stewart spent hours and hours in his room just practicing his clarinet.
“All of the band kids looked up to Jack,” Bradford says
When Jack wasn’t practicing, he would be studying to keep his place as the salutatorian of his class. His peers may have thought that everything came easily to him, but those who know him best say he worked harder than anyone ever understood.
“Jack inspired me each day in the classroom with his hunger for knowledge, his quirky and silly sense of humor, his care and compassion for his friends, and his incredible poise and modesty,” says Tracey Bishkin, who taught Jack AP Government, AP World History, and AP Psychology.
After his passing, the Stewart family received countless letters, emails, and phone calls from people they had never even met, telling them Jack’s effect on their lives.
“Jack was such a unique human being and he touched more people in his 19 years that most people can in a proper lifetime,” Bradford says. “He was just a genuinely good person, who would do anything to help anyone.”
“In our grief, I think we mourn Jack’s great potential,” Biskhin says. “We feel cheated that he could have achieved so many things. But we must remember to celebrate the many, many things he gave us.”