The Hickory Choral Society Celebrates Music Education!

Our Early Spring Concert was a celebration of music education and music educators. Our Artistic Director, Dr. Ryan Luhrs, shared the podium with four Hickory Choral Society (HCS) singers who also are music educators: Justin Johnson (South Caldwell High School), Jessica Cockroft (Hickory High School), Grant Logan (St. Stephen’s High School), and Renee Shatley (Lenoir-Rhyne University and, formerly, Draughn High School, East Burke High School). We also performed music written by hometown composers and former music educators, J. Jerome (Jim) Williams (East Burke High School) and James Gossler (Freedom High School).

In addition, we awarded 14 grants to music educators. The J. Don Coleman Education Fund was established in 1984 to honor the Hickory Choral Society’s founding director and help promote and expand choral music in Catawba County School systems. The program was later expanded to include public schools in Burke, Caldwell and Alexander counties as well. Knowing that most public schools work with very limited funding for the arts, grants from the J. Don Coleman Education Fund are awarded so that music educators can purchase choral music related to projects or performances for the current school year. As a result, schools can build libraries of music that can be used for years to come. (Make a donation to the Education Fund by clicking here!)

For 35 years, each fall music educators in the participating school systems were invited to apply for grants from this fund. When Covid-19 interrupted in-school singing in 2020, we were not able to award grants. In early 2022, we were delighted to learn that public schools were again including choral music in their programs. We invited music educators to apply for grants that were awarded at our Early Spring Concert at Corinth Reformed Church on Sunday afternoon, March 20.

Grants were awarded to the following:

Alexander Central High School – Michael Countryman and Michelle Sullivan
Burke County Elem Honors Chorus – Wendy Hardin
Draughn High School – Ashley Sigmon
East Alexander Middle School – Amalie Hinson
Gamewell Elementary School – Mary Katherine Taylor
Heritage Middle School – Mindy Cook
Hickory High School – Jessica Cockroft
Maiden High School – Cammie Adams
Newton-Conover High School – Jason Myers
Ray Childers Elementary School – Libby Teague
Salem Elementary – Amber Mattatall
Startown Elementary School – Margy Butterfield
Valdese Elementary – Brittany Schafer
West Caldwell High School – Bethany Wolfe

We look forward to offering the opportunity to music educators to apply for grants from the J. Don Coleman Education Fund again in the fall.