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Acclaimed Disney Animator John Musker ’71 Visits Loyola Arts Classes

In August, Loyola Academy fine and performing arts students welcomed John Musker ’71, accomplished writer, director and producer whose filmography includes several titans of the Disney catalog: The Great Mouse Detective (1986), The Little Mermaid (1989), Aladdin (1992), Hercules (1997), The Princess and the Frog (2009) and Moana (2016). 
Mr. Musker's return to Loyola was a great reminder of all of the amazing things I took out of my trip to Los Angeles,” says senior Cameron Burhmaster, who was one of a group of 19 Ramblers who received a tour of Disney Animation Studios in Los Angeles from Musker during a star-studded trip to the west coast over spring break.

The week was spent with some of Loyola’s most influential alumni in the entertainment industry including actor Pat Finn ’83, siblings and producers Jay Lavender ’93 and Meredith Lavender Wilson ’96, actor and producer Chris O’Donnell ’88, Interscope executive Sam Riback ’95, budding actress Kathleen Kenny ’13 and Disney’s John Musker ’71. Over the course of the week, students enjoyed a series of interactive workshops, tours, presentations and unique learning experiences curated by the alumni themselves. To learn more, click here.    

For these Ramblers, Musker’s visit to Loyola was an opportunity to extend a reciprocal welcome.

“We are so grateful to Mr. Musker that he was able to join us at Loyola, after we had a chance to visit him at Disney,” says Performing Arts Chair Mr. Daniel Briggs. “Since our trip to LA in spring, the students have met regularly to discuss our school, our craft as emerging artists and how we can be better ambassadors of the arts and our school mission—all inspired by what Mr. Musker taught us.”

The acclaimed animator spent the morning with students, who toured him through fine and performing arts at Loyola, where Musker received a glimpse into Loyola’s robust arts offerings. Special stops on the agenda included choir, orchestra and architecture classes, the dance and art studios and the theater.

“It was really cool seeing Mr. Musker walking the halls of Loyola again,” says junior Tommy Lynch. “He had a story for every hallway—from finding his old friend in the class composite photo to pointing out a window he had broken, which earned him a J.U.G.! His genuine excitement to see what Loyola has become for the arts was inspiring.”

Jessica Vela ’19 also led Musker around the school, which has changed significantly in the 40 years since his last visit. “I loved helping explain what activities were offered in each room, especially where the orchestra and guitar ensemble plays, as well as the studios,” she says. As Musker had done as a student in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Vela joined Loyola’s student newspaper The Prep to pursue a passion for illustration. The budding artist even had the opportunity to share some of her sketches and personal projects with Musker. “I’d like to think he was impressed,” she notes.

Although visual art courses were limited when Musker was a student, his involvement on The Prep provided an important outlet to cultivate his emerging talent, and he eventually served as the newspaper’s art editor.

“This to me was truly inspiring and can be an example for all young people,” Buhrmaster says of Musker’s ability to forge a pathway for himself—and future Ramblers.

To read more about Musker's visit to Loyola, click here.

Watch as WGN-TV's Mike Lowe '97 sits down with Musker during his visit to Loyola in August. 
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