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Dulaney High performance honors memory of Rob Hiaasen, slain Capital Gazette editor

The Dulaney High School Honors Concert Choir performs during a celebration of the life of Rob Hiaasen, who was killed in the June attack at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis.
The Dulaney High School Honors Concert Choir performs during a celebration of the life of Rob Hiaasen, who was killed in the June attack at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis.

Dulaney High School Performing Arts offered its Fall Orchestra and Choral Concert in honor of Rob Hiaasen, an editor for the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, who was killed in June in the attack on the newsroom. Rob was the husband of Maria Hiaasen, beloved English and journalism teacher at Dulaney, and the evening was meant to celebrate his life, honor his memory and carry on his legacy as well as raise funds to establish a scholarship at the school for an aspiring journalist.

The students of the Concert and Chamber orchestras, as well as the honors Concert and Chamber choirs came together to share music, words and messages that embodied Rob. The selections represented some of Rob’s favorite poems, authors and even some of his own words and were beautifully performed by the students.

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Spoken word poetry as well as the writings of student poets were featured and adorned the lobby in support of the evening. The finale of the program, a Celtic blessing, sung by the combined voices of all the choirs, was a haunting yet hopeful piece leaving all with a sense of deep peace and love.

According to the program, Rob was one who valued the human experience and sought new adventures, thriving to make meaningful connections with those he met along the way. His big personality and his even bigger heart were a source of joy and comfort to those around him.

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Rob Hiaasen's wryly observant writing style and his generous mentoring of young journalists assured him of a role in several newsrooms, from The Baltimore Sun to, most recently, The Capital Gazette, where he tragically was killed along with colleagues on Thursday.

A piece of him lives on as his debut novel, “Float Plan,” was posthumously published in September and celebrated at a book launch, where his wife, colleagues and friends read aloud passages from the novel. Many that knew him describe the novel as a way to glimpse his personality and witty sense of humor. Sadly, as his wife noted, Rob should be here to enjoy the publication of his book; instead, a portion of the proceeds are going to Everytown for Gun Safety in his memory. Contributions can be made directly to Dulaney High School for the Hiaasen Scholarship Fund.

“Peace Pom: Ronan Makes a Difference” is another book with local ties that was recently published and celebrated with a launch party in October. Written by Mark Gruber-Lebowitz, a retired teacher ,and illustrated by Pinewood Elementary’s favorite art teacher, Sheldon Gruber-Lebowitz, the children’s book features Ronan, a young Pomeranian dog who is hoping to teach others all about peace — from inner peace to how to share peace with others — with the message that all of us, big or little, can be peacemakers in our own way.

The book is a follow-up to “One Lucky Puppy: The Adventures of Ronan and His Dads,” and the series features the real-life puppy of the couple with the beautiful watercolor-styled illustrations bringing Ronan to life on the pages. According to Mark, “The positive response that the first book received fueled our commitment to move forward with this second Ronan book.” A portion of book sales will be donated to the Baltimore County Public Schools Education Foundation and a book signing will be held Dec. 1 at Greetings and Readings in Hunt Valley.

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