Pleasanton Weekly

News - November 8, 2013

Services tomorrow for JoAnn Koobatian

Tributes paid to Foothill High's choir director

by Jeb Bing

A public memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow at Valley Community Church in Pleasanton for Foothill High School's choir director JoAnn Koobatian, who died Oct. 18. She was 46.

Those attending are asked to wear pink, her favorite color.

Tomorrow's service follows many tributes to the popular music teacher and choir director. These included a special half-time concert during last Friday's game between Foothill and Granada High School on the Foothill field, and then the dedication of last Saturday's 2013 Falcon Royale in her honor as parents held their annual fundraiser marking the 40th anniversary of the opening of Foothill High.

A private family service was held last Monday at Trinity Lutheran Church in Pleasanton, that included her her husband Richard and their 12-year-old daughter Amanda, who is in 7th grade at Hart Middle School. A memorial fund has been established to help pay for college for Amanda.

Ms. Koobatian majored in music at San Jose State and made it her career from then on. A soprano, she sang with a quartet for many years, including in concerts at the Dean Lesher Center, before joining Foothill as a drama teacher in 1996.

The three choirs she taught are Concert, Chamber and Treble. She also spent extra time at lunch and after school working with students who couldn't fit choir into their schedules, but wanted to sing, and sing better.

Valerie Rossman, the school's visual and performing arts department chair, remembers that from the start, Ms. Koobatian was a star.

"I could see right away that she was a completely dedicated, skilled teacher who knew her subject like no one else," Rossman said. "She had high expectations for her students and just never gave up on them. She always challenged them to do their best and they really appreciated her for it."

Along the way, Ms. Koobatian was honored to receive the 2nd annual Juanita Haugen "Women Making a Difference" award for education, the Crystal Apple award and was named "Teacher of the Year" in the Pleasanton school district in 2011.

Even after being diagnosed with a rare form of thymic cancer in 2005, she continued teaching through chemotherapy and radiation treatments which eventually damaged her voice. Even though she couldn't sing along with them, she listened to students' voices and knew immediately just what parts they should have in her choirs.

Working with Mark Aubel, music and choir director at Amador Valley High School, she was part of a team that produced 18 musicals featuring students from Pleasanton elementary, middle and high schools.

Aubel, who is planning Saturday's "celebration of life" service, said that what made JoAnn Koobatian special "was that not only did she produce good musicians and good choirs, but she produced good people as well."

Valley Community Church is located at 4455 Del Valle Pkwy.

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