The schools and community of Longview, Washington have long supported the development of outstanding individuals whose contributions have enriched the city, state, nation, and world. We would like to take some time to highlight some of these notable individuals and the nurturing community from which they came. These bright spots in the Longview community exemplify the values that the Longview School District aims to instill in all of its students and serve as beacons of integrity, passion, and brilliance. Here, we introduce the next of many notable Longview Luminaries.
Mark Morris High School alumnus Stuart Hunt is 47 years into his music education career, one that’s taken him from Quincy to Marysville Pilchuck High School, both of whose choirs he has taken on overseas tours, to Northwest University in Kirkland.
He’s started adult choirs and arranged music. He’s founded Tools for Conductors—a publishing house for music education materials, collaborated to develop software that assesses student performances by cell phone and is working to create state and national standards for choral music programs.
At the moment, Hunt is coordinating a Seattle-based 85th birthday tribute for Quincy Jones—the winner of 28 Grammy Awards and an inductee in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Not surprisingly, the event includes an opportunity for students to attend workshops with Jones’s band members.
“I feel like honestly I have gone beyond a Forest Gump life,” Hunt said. “I’ve been able to do things that I would never ever have imagined. Because the music program in Longview inspired us to excellence, I knew what excellence was.”
Hunt’s career passion has been, and continues to be, training students in foundational skills and helping them believe they can create great music. His email signature is a quote by Henry Van Dyke: “The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.”
Hunt, who didn’t join choir until the last part of his senior year at Mark Morris, attributes his successful career in music to growing up in a place like Longview, where he had the opportunity to try a variety of activities and develop connections.
“Growing up in community instead of moving around and having people pop in and out and being in a school so big or a town so big that you didn’t even get an opportunity to have an identity, it’s critical,” he said.
He recalls learning from inspiring teachers, like Edna May Lidin, a Kessler teacher who led the Folklanders folk dancing group and took them on tour. Through the Folklanders, Hunt saw the power of getting students on the road, introducing them to other places and to situations where they needed to troubleshoot and improvise.
“In all honesty, it’s small towns that prepare you for things like this, because you know how to communicate,” he said. “It’s the same ethic. I don’t care where they’re from or where they are, everyone likes to talk to someone who’s interested in them.”
Although music is Hunt’s primary passion, he also has steered his energy into other issues he encounters. Some years ago he found himself raising awareness of problems with HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). The law was designed to protect patients’ medical records—but they also prevented a hospital from giving him important information about his mother, when she was admitted. His efforts landed him on the front page of the Seattle Times.
Now Hunt lives on Camano Island, north of Seattle. He likens it to Longview, covered with trees.
“I’m just happy that I’ve been able to have such an incredible life and been a part of over 16,000 students’ lives,” he said.