A family’s enduring bond made stronger through Peddie’s music program

Jane and Imad Labban P’10 ’12 ’14 have always appreciated music, a field their three boys have pursued with great passion. “Our very first purchase, even before we had any furniture — or children — was a piano,” remembers Imad. Little could they have predicted what a wise investment that would prove to be. “Our kids just naturally gravitated to it and have made the most of it over the years. In fact, whenever the kids are back for the holidays, I know as soon as I hear them playing that this is more than a visit, they are truly home.”

All of their sons — Sharif ’10, Sami ’12 and Adam ’14 — were deeply involved in the arts program at Peddie, performing as soloists, composing music, contributing to the pit band and the orchestra, or participating in the musical on stage. The arts played such a prominent role during the boys’ time here that it fueled their love of music well after graduation, inspiring them to continue performing in college and beyond.

Jane and Imad wanted to thank Peddie in a special way. As a joint graduation gift for all three boys, they established the Labban Family Fund for the Performing Arts, which their sons endorsed enthusiastically. This past year the fund supported the purchase of two new keyboards, strings for a harp, triangles and castanets for the orchestra as well as technical equipment for the graduation band.

The Labbans feel they “caught the wave” of incredible growth in the arts at Peddie. As a family, they have watched the program grow exponentially since Sharif’s arrival as a freshman in 2006. According to Jane and Imad, the impact of Alan Michaels, chair of the arts department, and Marisa Green, director of choral music, on the boys and other Peddie musicians has been transformative and inspiring. In fact, even with the 2010 expansion of the music facilities in the Swig Arts Center, it’s now true that the orchestra room, choral space and practice rooms often can’t handle the growing numbers of student musicians.

Both graduates of independent schools, the Labbans understand the power of great teaching and the personal commitment shown by the faculty every day. Active as parent volunteers during their sons’ time at Peddie, Jane and Imad were inspired, and they have themselves transitioned to teaching roles in the past few years.

An electrical engineer by training, Jane is now teaching piano, encouraged by her own instructor. Imad left his career in investment banking and took a leap of faith to join the Peddie faculty in 2012 as a teacher of mathematics and economics. At graduation last year, he received the Dr. Wilbour Eddy Saunders Society Award for Excellence in Classroom Teaching. The fact that students voted for the recipient makes this honor all the more meaningful for Imad.

“The power of music touches us daily, even though our sons live far from home,” reflected the Labbans. “Their shared love of music has nurtured an enduring bond between the three of them. Peddie’s arts program has been a long-term dividend for us, and we are grateful to support it.”