HASTINGS, Minn. -- A beloved choral director received a surprise retirement celebration after 33 years with Hastings High School.
"I knew I had to be here at 3 o'clock. That's all I was told," said Lin Warren, the guest of honor.
On Sunday afternoon hundreds of current and former students, as well as community members, packed the high school auditorium.
"I don't think he has any idea the number of students, but not only students... their whole family that he's impacted. It's huge," said Rachel Sager, who sings in the church choir he directs.
"It kind of saved me through high school, I think. It's hard to find a niche in high school but music was the place where I needed to be," said Matt Esler, who Warren taught from 1991-1994.
For a year, a small group of alumni have been planning an event to honor Warren.
Warren started at Hastings High School in 1984. In 1988, he received the Outstanding Young Choral Director Award from the Minnesota Chapter of American Choral Directors Association and in 1989 was selected as "Teacher of the Year." In 2014, he received the Minnesota Choral Director of the Year award.
While the event itself was a surprise to Warren, it didn't stop there.
The Hastings Show Choir board announced the creation of the "Lin and Kathy Warren Music Scholarship." The first scholarship will be presented next May.
It was then announced that the mayor of Hastings proclaimed Wednesday, May 24 as "Lin Warren Day."
"To say that this is overwhelming is absolutely an understatement," Warren said.
Warren then directed two pieces with the alumni choir. But again, his community had one more surprise in store for him.
They commissioned a new piece for choir and piano, composed by Ralph Johnson and dedicated to Warren. The text comes from a poem by Rumi called, "Where Everything is Music."
"We have fallen into the place where everything is music," recited Lukas Warren, Lin's son. "If a poem can encapsulate the work of someone and what they've meant to so many people, I think this does it."
Lukas Warren directed the piece, sung by the alumni choir. He will be following in his father's footsteps as Hasting High School's new choral director.
He said, "It was born of a want from a very young age to quite simply be like my dad."
After hearing "Where Everything is Music," Warren said, "It really is everything that I've ever stood for."