Going to college far away from your home town is something many high school students aspire to do. And it's exactly what Justin Miller, a 2001 Staples High School graduate, did when he left to attend Chapman University in California.
But after nine years in the Golden State, Justin came back to Westport to become the new choral director at Staples.
"I always knew I wanted to come back to the area," said Justin, 27. "I loved it [in California], but I knew I wouldn't want to raise a family there."
Outside of not wanting to start a family there, Justin said he didn't like certain things about California, including the fact that music programs "were being cut rapidly."
And as crazy as it might sound now, Justin said he missed snow.
"There aren't four seasons there," he said. "I actually like the fact that it gets cold and there's snow on the ground."
Although California wasn't where his heart was, he took full advantage of opportunities there that helped prepare him for the job at Staples, his first official teaching position.
During his last three years in California, Justin conducted the Westminster Chorus , an award-winning barbershop chorus.
Under his direction, the group was named "Choir of the World" in 2009, and in 2010, the group won the gold medal in the Barbershop Harmony Society International Chorus Competition.
Prior to Westminster, Justin was the assistant director of Masters of Harmony , another award-winning barbershop chorus. And while he said he loved conducting professional singing groups, he knew he couldn't make a living out of it.
Though he's still new to teaching, Justin said he loves his new role.
The students are just great, he said. Theyre hardworking and they want to be here. Im looking forward to making some really artistic music with them.
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