Services today, Nov. 9 for JoAnn Koobatian

Tributes paid to Foothill High's choir director

A private family service will be held today and then a public memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9 for Foothill High School's choir director JoAnn Koobatian, who died Oct. 18. She was 46.

The family service, to be held at Trinity Lutheran Church in Pleasanton, will include her husband Richard and their 12-year-old daughter Amanda, who is in 7th grade at Hart Middle School.

The Nov. 9 service will be held at Valley Community Church on Del Valle Parkway. Those attending are asked to wear pink.

This Saturday, Nov. 2, the 2013 Falcon Royale at the Pleasanton Hilton Hotel will be dedicated to her as parents hold their annual fundraiser, this year marking the 40th anniversary of the opening of Foothill High.

These tribute follow a week of special events in honor of Ms. Koobatian, that included a special half-time concert during last Friday's game between Foothill and Granada High School on the Foothill field.

Last week, the Foothill campus was a sea of pink as students, faculty and parents paid tribute to to the school's talented, fun-loving and much admired choir director. The tribute included wearing embroidered pink wrist bands that hundreds of students made during the week in honor of her favorite color.

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" last year in the Pleasanton school district.

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 was on the Foothill campus last week to help Rossman and Foothill's counselors meet with grieving students, 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."

Aubel, who is planning Saturday's "celebration of life" service, is also working with Foothill band director Josh Butterfield, who is taking over the choir's leadership position temporarily at Foothill.

Music, band and choir directors at Pleasanton schools are a close-knit community, Rossman said. "They're grieving, too."


Like this comment
Posted by tom works
a resident of Livermore
on Oct 25, 2013 at 10:21 am

Both of my daughters graduated from Foothill High and both of them were touched immeasurably by the incandescent Ms Koobatian. My eldest started with her in choir in 1996 and my youngest has followed in Ms Koobatian's musical career footsteps. We have all lost a beautiful soul who made everyone she touched a better person.

Like this comment
Posted by Isabella
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Oct 25, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Thank you for writing about Mrs. K. She was a spectacular woman. She was my vocal director for the Spring Musical Throughly Modern Millie, that I partcipated in back in 2008. She was the strongest, kindest, most loving person I ever knew. So lucky to have known her and to learn from her musicianship. She was and still is an inspiration to all of us.

Like this comment
Posted by Andrew
a resident of another community
on Oct 26, 2013 at 3:55 pm

JoAnn and I sang for many years together in a jazz quartet called CornerPocket. She had the most beautiful soprano ever. Clear, unyielding, pure, perfect. Her notes would extend well beyond the staff line, just like her impact on her friends, family, and students. I'm so sad that she is gone. I am also a teacher, and I understand how crushed her students are right now. She would be so proud of you guys...keep on singing. She did.

Like this comment
Posted by Jane Fields (DeMarta)
a resident of another community
on Oct 26, 2013 at 5:30 pm

My heart is broken for the family and the community. Rachael sang in her choir all 4 years of highschool, we have such happy memories of choir tours and concerts.
Blessings and prayers sent from afar.

Like this comment
Posted by Cori
a resident of Foothill High School
on Oct 26, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Ms. K was the best teacher I have ever had. She was the strongest person I've ever met and dedicated herself to her students. She was really just an unbelievable person. I know she's singing up in heaven. All of us touched by her miss her dearly. We love you, Ms. K!

Like this comment
Posted by hart parent
a resident of Del Prado
on Oct 27, 2013 at 10:29 am

Her daughter is a 7th grade student at Hart Middle School, not Harvest Park. Both the Hart and Foothill communities wore pink on Friday as a show of support.

Like this comment
Posted by Leilani
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Oct 27, 2013 at 10:57 pm

Ms K was my choir teacher at Amador High. I LOVED singing with her. She made that hour my favorite part of every day. I love her and she will be missed.

Like this comment
Posted by Barry
a resident of Southeast Pleasanton
on Oct 28, 2013 at 10:31 am

Anyone up for a singing contest tribute for JoAnn? I spoke with her a few months ago at Trinity Lutheran Church and mentioned she would love an "American Idol" style (Tri Valley has Talent) singing contest. I have a contact with Tommy at Tommy T's who may entertain hosting it...

Let me know...

Like this comment
Posted by Rusty Kransky
a resident of another community
on Oct 28, 2013 at 6:09 pm

I met JoAnn when I returned to school at Chabot Community College in 1986. We sang together in choir and quickly became good friends. We were always getting in trouble for laughing so much. Later we got into more trouble together at San Jose State. Jo was a loving, supportive friend with an amazing voice, and from all accounts she became a wonderful, inspirational teacher. I miss her terribly and feel that without her, the world is a sadder place. I will always treasure the time we spent together.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

New state housing requirements could affect Pleasanton
By Jeb Bing | 6 comments | 623 views

Time for new collaboration between city and school district
By Tim Hunt | 2 comments | 419 views

Salami, Salami … Baloney
By Tom Cushing | 20 comments | 384 views