November 23, 2009 in Idaho

Lake City students mourn death of choir teacher

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Courtesy of Lake City High School photo

Lacie Hedahl, a popular choir teacher at Lake City High School in Coeur d’Alene, died Sunday night.
(Full-size photo)

A beloved and award-winning choir teacher at Coeur d’Alene’s Lake City High School died Sunday night, reportedly of natural causes.

Lacie Hedahl, 39, had been teaching at the school for 10 years and was “deeply loved by the kids here and our staff,” said Principal John Brumley, who was notified of her death late Sunday.

“The students are so sad. It’s awful here today,” said art teacher Rebecca Anderson, who had a classroom across the hall from Hedahl’s. “Her students absolutely loved her the most. She related to the kids so well, the kids who are at risk, the kids having problems at home. There’s a level of trust that you can tell her anything.”

Brumley met with the district’s crisis management team at 6:30 a.m. Monday and with his staff 45 minutes later. Teachers read a statement to students and grief counselors were available in the school library. Some 40 students went home after hearing the news and about 200 talked to grief counselors, Brumley said.

Music teacher Tim Sandford had known Hedahl since she was a 17-year-old flutist in the band at his first teaching job, in Libby, Mont. Sandford encouraged Hedahl to attend the University of Idaho to pursue music, which she did, completing bachelor’s and master’s degrees. When the choir job opened at Lake City, Sandford encouraged her to apply.

A quote posted on Hedahl’s board in her classroom, Sandford said, read: “I refuse to settle for ordinary.” And she didn’t. Her choirs and her students garnered numerous awards over the years, at music festivals and at state competitions. One student was a state champion tenor a couple of years ago, Sandford said.

In 2004, the school won a prestigious Grammy Signature School Award, one of 40 given out nationwide by the Grammy Awards to recognize exemplary high school music programs.

As a teacher, Sandford said, Hedahl was “caring, passionate, very attuned to her students, very much a mother to her students. She was very loved and very respected, and we’re going to miss her a lot.”

Hedahl had family in the area but wasn’t married. She lived in Post Falls with her two shih tzus, school officials said. “Her world was music and our kids and her family and the puppies,” Brumley said. “It’s just an incredible tragedy to lose her.”

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