Director Zack Carlson leaves a Choir program full of emotion as he moves toward his new life

One of Buffalo High School’s most beloved teachers is leaving this year to start the beginning of a new life and start the family he longs for.

Choir teacher Zack Carlson is leaving Buffalo to teach at Wayzata High School next year. Through his 5 years of teaching choir and directing musicals at Buffalo he has gained many connections with current and past students and because of that connection he is ready to start his family with his husband. While his students are happy to see their teacher follow that dream, news of his departure has left many feeling empty.

“I think it’s incredibly sad, but I’m very excited for him to be able to go ahead and pursue the future that he wants for himself,” said Kaden Anderson ’24. “He has always been like a father to me, considering I never had one of my own and he is an amazing teacher and he will forever be and remain my favorite teacher ever. In my eyes nobody will ever be able to replace him. He has reinvigorated my love for choir and singing, because when I got to high school I was thinking about dropping choir but Carlson has made choir so much fun. And while it’s not necessarily the person in front of you that matters, it doesn’t hurt to have an amazing person in front of you.”

Choir students said that not only does he have an amazing quality of teaching, he is also a kind supportive father-like figure to lots of people. The connections he has made with students have made such an impact on their lives. His absence has led some Choir students to reevaluate their future plans in music at BHS.

“I mean, I’m happy for him I guess,” Ben Krinke ‘25 said, “but I’m also mad at him because now I’ll have to deal with a new person next year and I was really hoping to get through all my four years of high school with him. I’ll also have to figure out how this new random person will work and what they will be like. I figured out Carlson’s personality pretty quick. I mean like he is funny and kind and he’s a good teacher so I don’t think the school is going to be able to find somebody funny.”

Krinke, like others, is happy for him and had a connection like others have had with Carlson.

“He’s been a big role model in my life and he pushes me to do things outside my comfort zone,” Krinke said. “Like, obviously he’s involved with musicals and stuff, which is like a third of the year, and he plays a big part in that, and when I come to my auditions he knows my strengths and weaknesses and he knows what parts fit me the best. All in all, he will be missed.”

Carlson’s love for his passion and his students have inspired others to follow a similar path. Sam King ‘23 has been accepted into Concordia College Moorhead to pursue being a choir teacher and helping students find the same passion that King and Carlson share.

“He’s kind of like a second dad to me,” King said, “We’ve had long conversations and he’s always been very supportive like a dad. When I was a mentor in his class, I would say that’s when he really started to inspire me to pick up the same profession. Even before that he has always inspired me to be a choir teacher cause I mean Carlson means everything to me. He’s the reason I come to school. He has such an amazing personality. His classroom is such a fun and energetic space. He’s the reason I get out of bed in the morning and brush my teeth. He is the reason I try my best.”

King shared the bittersweet sentiment of many of his Choir classmates.

“I’m a little sad but I mean it’s not like he’s moving half way across the world,” King said.” It’s my final year and it’s his final year so I’m not worried about what next year will be for me cause I won’t be attending high school next year cause you know, I’m a senior and I know he’s always just a phone call away.”

In the end, Carlson’s departure will leave a void in the hearts of his students. The choir was emotional following his announcement because many said the lessons he has taught, both in music and in life will never be forgotten. Through his unwavering dedication and infectious passion, he had inspired a generation of BHS musicians to pursue their dreams and reach for the stars. Even with our final goodbyes coming up real soon, his students—present, past, and future—will know that Carlson’s legacy at Buffalo High School will live on. Not just in the melodies we sing but the memories that we will cherish forever.

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