Jeanne Swanson

Waseca High School Principal Jeanne Swanson, left, is a longtime supporter of the Marching Jays. Swanson, this year's Marching Classic grand marshal, is a WHS grad and a band parent. (Suzanne Rook/Waseca County News)

Few have a greater appreciation for the Waseca Marching Jays than this year's parade grand marshal, Jeanne Swanson.

As the Junior-Senior High School principal, she's almost obligated to be a booster. But Swanson, who grew up across the street from the school, had a front-row seat to its construction. She was a member of its second graduating class (1974) and as a student attended every concert the school's music program gave.

After college, she returned to Waseca, first teaching at Sacred Heart School from 1981-84 before moving to teach remedial math and English at her alma mater. As WJSHS assistant principal and principal, she's help coordinated between the district and nonprofit Waseca Marching Classic organization during the annual event.

But perhaps her most valued connection to the Jays is that of band parent.

Oldest son, Colby Swanson, who graduated in 2002, played sax for the Marching Jays. And her youngest son, freshman J.P. Swanson, is on the horn line, playing the mellophone, the marching band version of the French horn.

"That increased my attachment to the band," she said of being a band mom.

As the administrator on duty during the annual Classic, Swanson makes sure everything runs smoothly, that every band knows their assigned homeroom and has keys to access their headquarters for the day.

"I've always called myself a gopher," she said with a grin, "there to do whatever somebody wanted me to do. I had the keys, I knew the school, knew the kids."

Swanson began volunteering with the Classic not long after becoming Waseca High School's assistant principal. Then-Principal Dick Hansen also volunteered to work with the Classic and Swanson felt that helping out was part of the job.

"This was not on my radar," she said of being selected as grand marshal. "Isn't this just what I'm supposed to do? But I feel very honored that I was asked to do that."

But it's more than that for Jeanne Swanson, said Waseca Marching Classic President Edna Burns, who understands how Swanson feels about the selection.

"It's more than a job for her," said Burns. "Waseca means a lot to her."

Burns said that Classic organizers, when choosing a grand marshal, look for someone who volunteers year after year, who's concerned about the band, the bands coming to town and who helps prepare the school for visitors.

"Her concern is for the kids, making sure everything rolls smoothly that day," said Burns.

"She's the right person for this."

Reach Regional Managing Editor Suzanne Rook at 507-931-8567. Follow her on Twitter @rooksuzy

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