LAYTON -- A group of 55-year-old women is on the lookout for a record player.
Several members of the ninth-grade girls chorus that represented North Layton Junior High School during the 1970-71 school year are having a reunion this weekend. They recently planned to share memories and photos of the past and enjoy lunch together today at the home of one of their classmates in Sandy.
"We hope to play the LP record album we jointly made with our highly missed and respected mentor," said Lillian Taylor, who organized the reunion.
More than 40 years ago, Susan Taggart chose a diverse group of 20 15-year-olds to perform as a group representing their school. While doing so, the choir won numerous Utah Secondary Schools Excellence Music Awards and also performed before the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Taggart, 23 years old at the time, formed the choir in her second year at the junior high and played more of a role than just a teacher in several of her students' lives. Unfortunately, she was not able to keep in contact with her girls, which is why today will be a special day.
"I'm very excited to learn about what they've done with their lives," said Taggart, 64, before the planned get-together.
Taggart now lives in Salt Lake City.
"I'm eager to see them again. I'm not sure how many will show up, but I'm excited," she said.
Taylor said that the girls came from different cultures, beliefs and socioeconomic backgrounds. Despite their differences, they all loved to sing and wanted to accomplish the expectations of their dedicated and caring teacher.
After graduating from the University of Utah, Taggart taught 22 years as a public educator specializing in music and serving as a choir director in the Davis and Granite school districts. She worked in the Davis School District from 1969-75 before moving to the Granite School District. She retired in 2004.
She sang in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for 22 years and served as a guest service missionary usher for 18 years. She spends some of her time working in the ticket office at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' conference center.
Some of the women who planned to attend the reunion still live in Utah, while others are coming from out of state to enjoy the company of their former classmates and teacher.
Taylor planned to come in from Texas, and Kim Mechtly Forsgren planned to drive eight hours from Colorado to attend the reunion. Forsgren said the 16-hour round trip is well worth it because of the memories and experiences she and her classmates will share.
"What's eight hours when my best girlfriends are on the other end?" Forsgren said. "I too am deeply and profoundly moved by all Miss Taggart did for us and for me personally."
Her students say Taggart left them with a gift of perseverance, confidence and the ability to "dig in their heels" and take a presence in life as a winner, no matter where they stood in the future.
"It brings tears to my eyes," Taggart said. "I didn't realize I had that kind of an impact on young kids. It's amazing that they would still think of me, and it is very sensitive and very touching that they would think that highly of me."