Westmont Magazine A Musical Life
After 49 years of teaching high school music, Carleda Hutton ’54 has not lost one bit of passion for her work. She speaks with vigor and enthusiasm about her position at Brethren Christian High School in Huntington Beach, Calif., which she accepted shortly after graduating from Westmont.
Recognizing her faithfulness to Christ and to her vocation, the Christian Association of Senior Adults has honored her with the Heritage of Faithfulness award.
Carleda didn’t set out to stay at the same school for 49 years. “I thought about public school, but God blocked that, settled me at Brethren, and eventually I knew that was the spot he had for me,” she explains. “It is very special, very meaningful, teaching music. I have the opportunity to mold lives and challenge students to live by Christian principles. That is such a high for me. I look forward to getting up in the morning and going to work. It’s incredible. It’s fantastic. It’s wonderful. Why would I stop?”
Over the years, Carleda has led choirs for junior and senior high school, directed a variety of ensembles, put together countless special programs and influenced the lives of thousands of students. Before an instrumental music teacher joined the staff, she led the band and orchestra as well. She fills the school year with an impressive list of musical events.
In 1972, she helped establish an annual choral festival that attracts up to 20 choirs from around the state. For 30 years, she has chaired the impressive and intensive two-day Musicale for the Association of Christian Schools International.
Named Western Association of Christian Schools Teacher of the Year, she has served as guest conductor for choirs and special events such as Handel’s “Messiah” in Southern California. She loves to fish and plans yearly trips to the Mammoth, Calif., region. Students have also given her two trips to Alaska, including a Fish N Camp, which have been quite an adventure.
Not only has Carleda spent her working life in the Long Beach area, but she grew up there.
Carleda started violin lessons when she was 5 years old and played in school orchestras from ninth grade through college. She majored in music at Westmont, earned a master’s degree at CSU Long Beach, and did graduate work at the University of Southern California, UC Los Angeles, and Occidental College. For 20 years, she was the choir director at the First Brethren Church and then led the choir at Los Altos Grace Brethren Church for 24 years.
Holding the same job has been comfortable, but not boring, she says. “If you are where God wants you to be, you won’t be bored. The staff and the school families have become my family.”
Staging plays and musicals with the literary society at Westmont helped Carleda prepare for her career. “We had the opportunity to put together these programs without supervision, and the experience helped me when I started teaching. We had great fun and fellowship, and I have fond memories of Westmont.”