- December 23, 2015
Don’t say that you can’t, Nancy Sell-Dane always told her students.
The mantra still echoes in the hallways at Holy Family Catholic School even though Sell-Dane is no longer there. It’s just a piece of the legacy she left behind after her sudden death Dec. 26, 2016.
“She truly was a beautiful person,” said Sister Dorothy Sayers, principal of Holy Family Catholic School. “She was a gift to the school and to her students.”
As a tribute to Sell-Dane’s life, the school is dedicating this year’s spring musical in her honor.
After a successful career in the corporate world, Sell-Dane decided to try her hand at teaching and joined the staff at Holy Family Catholic School shortly after the school opened in 1996. Little did she know just how much she would come to love her students.
“She was one of those teachers who gave her all and more,” said Tim Conyers, the music director at the school.
Sell-Dane was known for coming in on the weekends, during holidays, over spring break and during the summer months to put in extra hours for her students and the school’s projects.
“She was very joyful and encouraged us to never stop doing art,” sixth-grader Madeline Orlando said.
Sell-Dane was a creative mastermind, Conyers said, because she not only taught art classes but also created the sets for school plays.
“She was a really integral part of the art and sets for many shows over the years,” he said.
From giant teapots to a walk-through forest, Sell-Dane always created beautiful and elaborate set designs.
And she taught every single student that attended Holy Family Catholic School.
“She made an impact on everyone,” said Hayleigh Jusas, an eighth-grader at the school.
Although she was known for her artistic skills, her students also remember her for her jokes.
“She was always able to add humor to stuff,” said eighth-grader Dia Sorrentino.
Just before Christmas break, Sell-Dane told her students that they had made her life complete.
“This was her home, her family,” Conyers said.
A mural has been painted on one of the school walls as a memorial to Sell-Dane’s memory. It includes scenes from various plays, horses, symbols of Sell-Dane’s faith and a quote from Sell-Dane that reads, “One day at a time do the Lord’s will as best you can without knowing the future. The Lord will take care of you along the way, and when it’s over, the Lord will bring you home.”
“A Night on Broadway”
When the school initially began planning it’s spring musical, the goal was to make it a celebration of the school’s 20th anniversary
“When we started out, we said we wanted to do a Broadway review,” Conyers said, who is directing the production. “We had so many auditions that we decided to do a major production.”
The show will feature more than 100 students and songs from several Broadway productions, including “The Sound of Music,” “42nd Street,” “Aladdin,” “The Lion King” and “Annie.”
“I don’t this this has ever been done before,” Conyers said. “It’s very, very unique. I don’t think there’s a school in Florida that’s tried to put on a show like this with the gamut of shows that we’re doing.”
After Sell-Dane’s unexpected death half-way through the school year, the school decided to frame the show as a tribute to her memory.
Students have been rehearsing for months in preparation for the show.
“It’s been fun,” said Jusas. “It’s like a huge medley of different shows.”
Sixth-graders Sophia Senior and Orlando have visited businesses around town to put up posters advertising the upcoming musical, and the community response, especially in light of Sell-Dane’s death, has been positive.
“It hasn’t been as much sad as it has been celebrating her life,” Conyers said.
Each performance will also includes a short video to pay tribute to Sell-Dane and her work at the school.
“It will be a real nice evening for everybody,” Sayers said. “We want to celebrate her life.”
Contact Brittany Gaines at [email protected]