City High Music Staff poses for a picture after All-State auditions 2019. (Courtesy of Megan Stucky and Aaron Ottmar)
City High Music Staff poses for a picture after All-State auditions 2019.

Courtesy of Megan Stucky and Aaron Ottmar

A Long-Distance Farewell

May 20, 2020

City High’s beloved choir director, Dr. Greg Grove, announced his retirement this year to students throughout the music department. Dr. Grove has been a colleague, mentor, and friend to countless lives throughout his time at City High. Because their farewells are unable to be said in person, below is a collection of letters written by City High faculty and students regarding Dr. Grove’s retirement. 


Dr. Grove is the best colleague anyone could ever ask for. He is a consummate professional, a master teacher, and one of the kindest people to walk upon this planet. He has been a major influence on my life and I will miss him deeply 

My first memory of Dr. Grove dates back to my freshman year at Luther College. I distinctly remember him visiting Luther with his son, Andrew, in the fall of that year. I thought to myself, “So, that’s Dr. Greg Grove…” 

Growing up in Muscatine, I had heard about Dr. Grove through our music circles: competing against 4th Ave. in show choir competitions, etc. I had only heard great things about him and his teaching. When I went to Luther, I met friends who had gone to City and sung with Dr. Grove who were, also, full of praises for him and his work. I don’t know why that particular memory has stuck in my brain all these years later, but I have a very vivid picture of seeing them in the corner of the choir room during one of our rehearsals for Norsemen (now called Norskkor.)

Who knew then that I would be teaching alongside him one day? I definitely didn’t! But, for me, it really has been a dream realized. I knew, from one of my first days at City, when we sat and talked about Handel’s operas and oratorios for over an hour, that this was something and someone truly special.

To Dr. Grove: Thank you for all that you have given to City High over your tenure here. Thank you for all that you have given to me. Your generosity of spirit and great humbleness are things that I will carry with me forever. I cannot express in words all that you have done, so all I can say is, “So, that’s what makes Dr. Grove, Dr. Grove… Thank you.”

Written by: Tyler Hagy, City High Choir Director 


Dr. Grove has been a great influence on my life and I don’t know where I would be without him. He has inspired me to be the best musician and person I can be every day. I will always remember the time spent in class with Dr. Grove. Thank you for your hard work and many years at City High, Dr. Grove. The City High Choirs would not be what they are today without your time and care you’ve put in. I will miss having you as a teacher and director very much, thank you for everything you’ve done, Dr. Grove.

Written by: Eva Stadtlander ‘22


I wanted to write a farewell letter to say I will miss you and to thank you for teaching me in charisma. You were one of my favorite teachers. I really enjoyed being in Charisma this year and have enjoyed doing show choir and plan to continue doing it. I also enjoyed meeting other people from Charisma and 4th Ave. So once again thanks for letting me join Charisma and I hope you have a happy retirement.

Written by: Vaughan Lewis ‘22


To say that I respect and admire Dr. Grove would be a gross understatement. He is the type of man and teacher I long to be. His gentle, kind, and yet assertive style of interacting with students is amazing to watch. Additionally, his willingness to help people is unparalleled. Years ago when I was doing whatever I could to get into ICCSD, Dr. Grove met with me at a nearby restaurant, (while he had a cold), and we chatted about what it was like to teach at City High. His positivity and willingness to help me advance my career still sticks with me as one of the most selfless things I’ve seen someone do, especially because at that time we didn’t know each other very well.  It goes without saying that he will be missed in the music department, and the absence of his gentle influence will definitely be felt. I am so thankful to have worked with a living legend like Dr. Grove, and I wish him all the best in his retirement!

Written by: Mike Kowbel, City High Assistant Director of Bands


I’ve really enjoyed being part of Charisma these past two years and it’s helped me in so many different amazing ways. This show choir has led me to some of my best friends. I’ve grown to be more confident with who I am and I’ve seen the same thing happen with so have many other people because of this awesome group you Isaac, Megan, Lexi, and Mr. Hagy all work so hard to put together every year. I can only hope that in my new school that I can find a truly amazing show choir or something similar to join. I know it will be hard to find one as great as Charisma and 4th Avenue, But I really am thankful to have been a part of it all. Charisma was undoubtedly the best thing that I got to be a part of at City High. Thank you so much, you were a great teacher. Congratulations on your retirement!

Written by: Ava Lybarger ‘22


Thank you, Dr. Grove, for always having faith in me. I’ll always be grateful for having you as my teacher and helping me build my confidence. We’ll miss you here at City High, but we are excited for your happy retirement!

Written by: Lucy Corbin ‘22


Dr. Grove started at City High during my sophomore year in 1989. Up until then, I had never been in school choir, and he got me to audition for my junior year. By senior year, I had made All-State and chose music as a major in college. While studying music at St. Olaf, Dr. Grove brought the entire City High Concert Choir to a St. Olaf choir rehearsal in the cozy rehearsal room at the music building. It was the only time that had ever happened in my three years in the choir, so it was clear that he had the drive to make those things happen. Now in his final year of teaching 30 years later, he teaches my son Jared, who has thrived as a singer in one year. What a great influence for such a long time at one school. Thanks, Dr. Grove! 

Written by: JP Moninger ‘92


“Did you know I taught your dad?” 

That would be the first of many conversations I would have with Dr. Grove. Though he’s only been my teacher for less than a whole school year, it feels like more than that. I never thought I’d enter that choir room for my show choir singing audition that I’d be performing for my favorite teacher. As high school began and choir started, I understood why my dad talked about Dr. Grove so much- what an awesome guy! He really can keep his cool while dealing with 30 underclassmen boys. In Little Hawk Singers, Show Choir, and Mannerchor, I can confidently say I’ve never had a more accepting, hard-working, and enthusiastic teacher. We’ll miss you, Dr. Grove!

Written by: Jared Moninger ‘23


Congratulations on your retirement, Dr. Grove, and everything that you accomplished in your illustrious career! You have been the master and legend for all things City High Choirs for a long time now. You put City High “on the map” for being an exemplary choral program. You embodied “the school that leads” with your ensembles at ACDA, show choir competitions, your scores of All-State students, numerous trips, and the many memorable concerts in beautiful Opstad that we all remember. You were part of shaping City High Music into being named for the prestigious Grammy Signature School THREE TIMES (of which only a few schools in the country have done). I could go on but what I wanted to say is that you did this all without making it about you. You have led and directed so humbly through making your career about others. You consistently showed your support of numerous City High administrations through the years, always put your colleagues before yourself in so many ways, always showed tremendous love and care for all of your students, and (to top it off) made your family your number one priority through it all. You embody servant leadership everywhere you go and City High will not be the same without you. I hope that we continue the legacy of musical excellence and servant leadership that you showed us for years to come. We have been so blessed by you and will never forget the influence you had on all of us! #TSTL #CityHighMusicFamily 

Written by: Aaron Ottmar, City High Band Director


Thank you for teaching me to cherish and how to use my voice. Thank you for creating the feeling of a safe space in the choir room, a place I could always go, no matter what I was going through. I remember one day I was throwing around a ball after the career caravan and you came and you played catch with me. Even though my hand-eye coordination is/was not good, you kept playing with me even though you were just going to set up chairs. Thank you for welcoming me to City High, and thank you for being such an amazing role model in my life.

Written by: Rachel Marsh ‘22 


Anyone who has had Dr. Grove for choir loves him. Dr. Grove is so welcoming to everyone he meets and is almost like a father figure to his students. We are all sad to see you go, but we all wish you the best and love you so much!

Written by: Jake Roth ‘22


As the only current member of the music department who was here to celebrate Dr. Grove’s FIRST retirement…I feel qualified to speak about his second one! I have had the privilege of working with Dr. Grove for the last eight years at City High School. He is a highly respected, valued, and wise educator. This year the entire music department met every day for lunch although Dr. Grove could never wait to eat until C lunch so he would just come in to chat while the rest of us chowed down! I will miss his calm energy in the building. He is like the wise owl we all look to for guidance. I know Dr. Grove will enjoy retirement with his wife and I wish him the happiest of transitions to life’s next chapter. Congratulations! 

Written by: Megan Stucky, City High’s Director of Orchestras 


For the past three years I have known Dr. Grove, he has blessed me with knowledge and compassion I will carry with me forever. As soon as Dr. Grove enters a room, everyone’s eyes seem to light up a little brighter than before. Being in Dr. Grove’s class has changed me for the better. The love he has for his students could not be clearer. He has the incredible ability to get deep and be vulnerable with his students, but also have fun and hand out quarters for answering random trivia questions (I got a 2016 Kentucky quarter last year for knowing the names of the 3 stooges). His cheerful and heartwarming nature is almost tangible. Students find a home in his room, seeking out his company in times of celebration and in times of sadness. His humble nature and genuine personality are absolutely inspiring. If I could grow to be a fraction of the person Dr. Grove is, I would be very lucky. To Dr. Grove: I will never forget all the precious memories I have made while knowing you. I wish so badly that I could look you in the eye while saying this to you, and congratulate you in person. Thank you for being with me through the highs, and the lows. Thank you for always believing in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. I could not have asked for a better role model for the past 3 years. You deserve all the good things in life coming your way. I can’t wait for the day when our paths cross once again. Have a joyous retirement!

Written by: Rachel Meehan ‘21

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