Albert Beck and Bob Havens were honored by Arts Quincy during the organization’s 70th annual meeting on Wednesday, April 11 with a George M. Irwin Lifetime Achievement Award.
Beck, an artist, poet, folk singer, creative thinker and teacher, was presented with the award for Visual Arts and Arts Education during the meeting at the Oakley-Lindsay Center. The award is in recognition of a lifetime of artistic vision and dedication to educating visual artists.
During his 40+ year career as an educator, Beck influenced the lives of students from Culver-Stockton College, John Wood Community College and more. A Korean War veteran, Beck’s artwork and poetry has been featured in numerous galleries and museums internationally. At 87 years-old, he continues to inspire others with his wit, enthusiasm and unique perspective of the world.
Musical legend and Quincy native, Bob Havens has also been named a recipient of a George M. Irwin Lifetime Achievement Award for Music and Performing Arts. The award is in recognition of a lifetime of vision, passion and dedication to trombone performance as well as enduring cultural contributions in the Quincy area and beyond. The award will be presented at a later date this spring.
During the annual meeting, guests were treated with tours of Quincy Community Theatre followed by a celebration and review of the organization’s growth and success from the 2017-18 fiscal year. Retiring board members include Kellie Henke, Danielle Fleer, Lee Lindsay, Alana Flynn, Chris Daniels and Mariann Barnard. Mark McDowell is ending his term as president and Holly Cain will serve as president in the next fiscal year. New board members inducted include Chuck Scholz, Alison Shafer and Cinda McClain. Arts Quincy also announced exciting new initiatives and goals for the 2018-19 fiscal year including Philanthropic Impact Planning for partner organizations and a new program, Made in America, which is a free art course for area veterans that will begin in May at the Illinois Veterans Home.
The Quincy Society of Fine Arts’ national award-winning programs work to expand the local economy, strengthen education and insure cost-effective arts programs and services for everyone! To donate, become a member or to learn more, please visit www.artsquincy.org.
This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and from a grant from the NEA, ART WORKS Program.
Artist, poet, folk singer, creative thinker and teacher. Congratulations Albert Beck, a recipient of a 2018 George M. Irwin Lifetime Achievement Award!
Professor Emeritus Al Beck taught in the Fine Arts Department of Culver-Stockton College (C-SC) from 1968 - 1996. He then served as the Artist in Residence until 2009. In addition to his work at C-SC, during his 40+ year career as an educator, Mr. Beck taught at John Wood Community College, at the primary and secondary school levels in northeastern Ohio, and served as Dean of Students for the Kansas City Arts Institute.
He is proud of the fact that in all his years of teaching, he never gave a test. Students were responsible for assessing their work - a valuable lesson in accountability, according to one of his former students.
Mr. Beck served in the Korean War, has published 29 poetry books and has written on a multitude of other topics including art, education, music and history.
Mr. Beck is an inaugural member of the C-SC Division of Fine Arts Hall of Fame. He was recognized as one of the 2000 Outstanding Writers of the 20th century by the International Biographical Centre in England.
He has received numerous art awards and prizes throughout his career for clay, glass, paper casting, painting, and design. In 2004, Mr. Beck was listed in both the International Who's Who of Authors and Writers as well as the Who's Who of Poetry. In 2006, he received the Editor's Choice Award for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry: International Library of Poetry; and in 2007, he received second place in the 15th Annual National Senior Poets Laureate Poetry Competition in Missouri.
Mr. Beck's artwork and poetry have been featured in more than 40 different galleries and museums in the United States, Japan, Canada, France, and India. At 87 years old, he continues to write and inspire others with his wit, enthusiasm, and unique perspective of the world we live in.
Mr. Beck was nominated by C-SC graduates Heath Richmond and Jill Arnold-Blickhan. A certificate was presented to Mr. Beck at Good Samaritan Home of Quincy, where he resides, on April 4, 2018. A trophy will be presented at the Arts Quincy's Annual Meeting on April 11, 2018 at the Oakley-Lindsay Center. The award is in recognition of a lifetime of vision, passion, and dedication to educating and inspiring visual arts.
To view a list of previous George Irwin Award winners, click here.
Times have changed. Bell bottoms went out in the 60s. We get our news from a variety of sources these days. And who has a land line phone anymore?
So why would you assume that your public library is the same place you visited as a child?
As society has changed, public libraries have also transformed to provide for the needs of their communities. Quincy Public Library has transformed over the years to provide the services that Quincy residents want.
Gone are the days when talkers were chastised by bun-wearing librarians hissing “Shhh!”
Visit Quincy Public Library now, and you’ll find a vibrant community resource with events, material, and programs for all age groups.
Looking for a quiet place to study? QPL has that, with meeting rooms and study rooms available for reservation. Need wi-fi, or even a computer? Use ours! And of course, QPL has a variety of story times to help kids enjoy books and reading.
Can’t make it to the library? No problem! QPL makes it convenient with 24/7 locker delivery and digital material, available from any location, with your valid QPL card.
These are just some of the services provided these days by Quincy Public Library. Visit the website, quincylibrary.org, or stop in to the building at 526 Jersey to learn the full scope of programs available to you.
QPL underwent a major expansion and remodel in 2012, which allowed the library to allocate space to popular areas and community-requested resources.
Nationally, library usage has increased over the last few years, as people transitioned from simply transacting book checkouts to include more activities, including public use computers and study rooms. Use of the facilities at Quincy Public follows the same trend.
“The library is no longer defined by the number of books it has on its shelves, but rather it is now about being a living space for the users,” explained Mogens Vestergaard in the Princh blog “Modern Libraries.” “Today, people are more focused on learning activities and they want social interaction together with the possibility to share their knowledge with others. The library transforms in to a meeting place.”
Libraries also help serve their communities by providing opportunities for lifelong learning.
Study after study has shown the value of library programs in encouraging children to read. Children who are read to and who read start a cavalcade of positive lifetime results, from better performance in school, to higher high school graduation rates, better success in college, and greater opportunity within the workforce.
Comedian Paula Poundstone summed it up, “The truth is libraries are raucous clubhouses for free speech, controversy, and community.”
So come on in! Check out QPL. Get your library card and start enjoying the benefits a transformed library can bring to you.
The mission of the Quincy Public Library is to provide its patrons with materials, facilities and programs to meet lifelong learning, cultural and recreational needs.
For more information on library services, visit quincylibrary.org, or stop in to 526 Jersey, and let us show you around!
By Kelsey Deters
Winter has been here for a very long time. A very VERY long time. In my personal opinion, once the soft glow of the Christmas lights fades, it’s time to say goodbye to winter. Sadly the snow, ice, and frigid temperatures tend to hang on several months past that date. But with our sudden influx of warmer temperatures, there is a feeling of hope in the air. To get us through any remaining cold and gloom, here are five things to look forward to this summer.
5. Summer is a great time to learn something new.
Whether you’re a student for the other nine months of the year, or if you’ve been out of the education game for a while, summer is a great time to reignite your passion for knowledge. Grab a group of your friends and head to the Quincy Art Center to learn how to create your own pottery. Spark your imagination with a class at Quincy Community Theatre. Check out the Quincy Public Library for a new summer read, or for the dozens of programs they offer for children and adults of all ages. Your kids can explore a new hobby or potential career with John Wood Community College’s JDUB Academy. And if you’re feeling musically inclined, consider taking instrumental or vocal lessons from one of the dozens of teachers in the Quincy Area. It’s never too late to learn a new skill!
4. Summer is traditionally a time for Blockbuster films.
In 2018 movies like Avengers: Infinity Wars, Star War: Han Solo, Ocean’s Eight, and The Incredibles 2, will all compete for our attention and money. And while I am personally pumped to see each and every one of those films, I also think it is important to realize that in Quincy we are incredibly lucky because we have access to live performances as well as those on the big screen. Live theatre is a shared experience between not just the audience members, but also those creating the story onstage. This summer, Quincy Community Theatre (QCT) will bring not one, but two productions to life before your eyes.
Up first is Elephant and Piggie’s “We’re in a Play!” A charming musical based on the Mo Willems’ books, this show has songs about friendship, family, and ice cream. What’s not to love? The show runs June 14-17 with a sensory friendly performance of this show on Saturday, June 16.
And stay tuned, because July 19-22 and 26-29, audiences will be transported to Greece in the smash hit musical, Mamma Mia! This jukebox musical, that features the pop classics of ABBA, will have audiences dancing in the aisles. Grab your spandex, feather boa, your best friends and head to QCT! Tickets for Mamma Mia! go on sale to the public Monday, June 25.
3. Traveling is a huge summer activity for many Americans. Whether that travel is international or domestic, it can get expensive quickly.
While saving for that big adventure somewhere far away, become a tourist in your own backyard. So this summer, take a day or two for a stay-cation. Check out the stunning architecture Quincy has to offer. Start your exploration with the beautiful homes on Maine Street between 14th & 24th Streets.
Take a walk or drive down this historic stretch of road, and stop off at the Quincy Museum. The stunning décor on the first and second floor will transport you to the past, and the dinosaurs on the third floor will take you back to the dawn of time. The museum is open Tuesday – Sunday from 1 – 5 pm. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children ages three and up.
Continue your adventure at The Villa Katherine,Quincy’s very own castle. The castle, which also houses the Quincy Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, is open for self-guided tours Monday - Saturday 9 am - 5 pm and Sunday 1 pm – 5 pm. The river views from the inside of the castle are stunning and the Mediterranean-style architecture is a unique treasure for our Midwestern town. After you visit the castle, stop by Winking’s Market (located just a block away) to grab food, then head down to Clat Adams Park for a picnic on the waterfront. It’s hard to beat a summer sunset on the mighty Mississippi!
2. Every other Friday throughout the summer, one of my favorite Quincy traditions happens downtown in Washington Park.
Blues in the District will celebrate 21 years of entertaining the community in 2018 and the crowds have only grown over the years. Pack your cooler, grab your lawn chair, and head to the park for a great time. Local food vendors (like The Butcher Block) traditionally set up food trucks in the park, and local businesses (like Tiramisu) often have carryout specials. Pizza and wine in the park…yes please!
And make sure to mark your calendar for the 22nd of June, when Blues in the District will take place at the same time as Q-Fest. Head to The District to enjoy shopping the booths of local artists while still savoring the sounds of the blues. There is no shortage of Arts in Quincy, especially throughout the summer.
1. The smell of freshly cut grass, the sounds of friends and family gather around a picnic table, the night air that is still warm and inviting: these are just some of the things that makes small-town summers so great.
Growing up in Quincy, I remember spending every night running around outside with my neighborhood friends, catching lightning bugs and waiting for that first star to appear in the sky.
About 10 years ago, Bill Welch began collecting traditional woodworking hand tools so he could get back to the basics of the craft. He is able to use the best in reclaimed woods to create original stools, benches and chairs that will be enjoyed for years to come.
Although he has a large assortment of power tools for woodworking, he really enjoys making unique, distinctive furniture pieces and carving smaller items such as bowls, spoons and handles with hand tools.
Some would call his furnishings a type of "live-edge furniture" which refers a popular interior design trend that creates a rustic or homestead feel in tables, chairs and other home furnishings. There are many varied techniques Welch uses in his art of free form furniture.
Welch primarily uses the best in ring-porous woods including walnut, ash, oak or hickory. Each piece is split out of a log, known as riving, using a froe and beetle (maul). Next he uses a hatchet to get the wood to a manageable state. He then puts the piece in a shave horse, trims it with a drawknife and finishes it with a spokeshave.
The final piece is truly a unique work of art. No two pieces are the same. Not only is the color and the grain original, but also the shape is one-of-a-kind.
Welch believes woodworkers should pass on these types of skills to new craftsman so that the techniques will not be lost to future generations. A great way to learn from Welch or other local woodworkers is by attending a meeting of the Quincy Woodworkers Guild. The club always welcomes newcomers of any skill level to check out a meeting or join the organization. The group meets once a month at rotating locations to share their works-in-progress as well as to exchange ideas and techniques.
For more information, including the location of the next meeting, please send an email to email@example.com.
A lifelong love and ability to play music has brought three members of the Quincy Concert Band’s oboe section closer together over the years. Jan Kendrick, Debbie Vonderhaar and Marianne Peters each began playing their instruments in grade school and continued through college. For nearly a decade they play together in the community wind ensemble. The women look forward to their weekly rehearsals under the baton of Dr. Trent Hollinger.
One of their favorite pieces to practice for the upcoming spring performance, “An Illinois Bicentennial” is the classical orchestral work “Lincoln Portrait” by Aaron Copland. The work will be narrated by Mark McDonald, host and producer of Illinois Stories on PBS affiliate Network Knowledge. He will be reading excerpts of Abraham Lincoln’s great documents, including the Gettysburg Address.
The band is made up of volunteers from around the region. Their dedication and joy of producing quality musical entertainment benefits the entire region. Don’t miss this complimentary concert on Sunday, March 11 at 2:30 pm in Morrison Theater at Quincy Junior High School. Donations are appreciated to help with the band’s expenses. Find more information about the band or learn how to join by visiting quincyconcertband.org or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fifteen Quincy Senior High students have been named Illinois All-State musicians for 2018 by the Illinois Music Educator’s Association. These All-State musicians performed as members of the All-State Band, All-State Orchestra, All-State Chorus and All-State Honors Chorus in Peoria during the Illinois Music Educators Association state meeting in January.
Students were selected through individual state-wide auditions held in October and performances in the All-District Festival in November at Western Illinois University. More than 290 Illinois schools participated in the auditions. Quincy Senior High has one of the highest number of students selected in the State of Illinois. Students were accompanied to Peoria by Quincy Senior High music teachers Kathi Dooley, Paul Shelor, Debbie Johnson, Gayle Tenhouse, Chris Gass and Chad Ensinger. Debbie Johnson, retiring ILMEA District IV President conducted the All-State Finale combined selection “Illinois.”
The 2018 ILMEA All-STATERS:
Andrew Arnold, Tenor, is a senior and the son of Stacy Arnold and Brandt Arnold. He is a member of the QHS Concert Orchestra, QHS Concert Choir, QHS Madrigal and QHS Show Choir. He recently performed the role of “Marryin’ Sam” in the QHS production of “Li’l Abner.” This marks the 3rd year that Andrew has been named an ILMEA All-Stater.
Eddie Binosi, Violin, is a junior and the son of Carlo Binosi and Callie Binosi. He is a member of QHS Concert Orchestra, “WIRED” and was in pit orchestra for the QHS fall musicals “Li’l Abner” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” Eddie will perform as the 2018 Quincy Symphony Orchestra Young Artist and is the QAYO Concert Master, a member of the Quincy Symphony Orchestra a member of the Varsity QHS Tennis Team. Eddie was also a 2017 ILMEA All State musician.
Ziven Crist, Bass, is a sophomore and the son of Michael & Cindy Crist. He is a member of the QHS Concert Chorale and QHS Jazz Band. This marks the first time a sophomore has been selected from Quincy Senior High as an All-Stater in Choir.
Carson Frese, Baritone, is a senior and the son of Tom & Shante Frese. He is a member of QHS Concert Choir and the QHS Blue Devil Varsity Basketball Team. Carson is also a worship leader at The Crossing Church.
Leo Lin, Cello, is a junior and is the son of Suzy Zou and Billy Lin. He is a member of the QHS Concert Orchestra and “WIRED.” Leo performed in the pit orchestra in QHS fall musical “Li’l Abner” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” Leo was also a 2017 ILMEA All-State musician.
Ben Makins, French Horn, is a junior, and the son of Charles & Angie Makins. He is a member of QHS Marching Blue Devils, Concert Band, Concert Chorale, Concert Orchestra, QHS Jazz Band, Show Choir, and performed in the QHS Fall Musical, “Li’l Abner” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”
Calien “Mac” McPike, Percussion, is a senior and the son of Lori Vogel and C.G. McPike. He is a member of QHS Concert Band, QHS Concert Orchestra, and QHS Show Choir. He has performed in the QHS pit orchestras and is Captain of the QHS Drumline.
Mitchell Molidor, Tenor, is a sophomore, and the son of Danette & James Molidor. He is a member of QHS Concert and Marching Bands, Concert Choir, QHS Varsity Singers and a member of the QHS Madrigal Choir. Mitch performed the role of “Pappy Yokum” in the QHS Fall Musical, “Li’l Abner.”
Dalton Moss, Viola, is a sophomore, and the son Cindy Moss and Dan Moss. He is a member of QHS Concert Orchestra. Dalton was a member of the pit orchestra for the QHS Fall Musical, “Li’l Abner.”
Adelle Seaman, Alto, is a senior, and the daughter of Dr. Nathan & Delene Seaman. She is a member of QHS Concert Orchestra, Concert Choir, QHS Varsity Singers and QHS Madrigal Choir. Adelle performed the role “Mammy Yokum” in the QHS Fall Musical, “Li’l Abner.”
Maggie Sparrow, Viola, is a junior and the daughter of Josh & Amanda Sparrow. She is a member of QHS Concert Choir, “WIRED”, Concert Orchestra, QHS Show Choir and performed in the pit Orchestra of the QHS Fall Musical “Li’l Abner.” Maggie was an ILMEA All State Musician in 2017.
Noah Spencer, String Bass, is a junior and the son of Adair and Brian Spencer. He is a member of the QHS Concert Orchestra and the QHS Jazz Band. Noah performed as a member of the pit Orchestra for the QHS production of “Li’l Abner” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” Noah is also involved with the Worship Team at the Crossing 929, and Quincy Area Youth Orchestra.
Lauren Tweedell, Soprano, is a junior and the daughter of Jeff & Sharon Tweedell. She is a member of QHS Concert and Marching Bands, Concert Choir, Concert Orchestra, QHS Show Choir and a member of the QHS Madrigal Choir. Lauren performed in the QHS Fall Musical “Li’l Abner.” Lauren is also a Q-City Pommer, a member of All School Student Council, National Honor Society and Beta Club.
Katie Vogler, Oboe, is a senior and the daughter of Larry and Cheryl Vogler. She is a member of QHS Concert Band, Concert Choir, Concert Orchestra and performed in the Pit Orchestras of the QHS Fall Musical “Li’l Abner and “Fiddler on the Roof.” Katie is also involved with National Honor Society, Beta Club, All School Student Council, Key Club, Quincy Youth Orchestra and a member of the QHS Track and Field team. Katie was a 2017 ILMEA All State Musician.
Dallas Will, Trombone, is a junior and the son of Thomas & Carolyn Will. He is a member of QHS Concert and Marching Bands, QHS Concert Orchestra, and QHS Jazz Band. Dallas performed in the Pit Orchestra for “Li’l Abner” and is also a member of the Quincy Youth Orchestra. Dallas was selected to be first chair trombone in the All-State Orchestra.
Sunday Music Series will welcome The Dixie Dads, with guest artist Bob Havens, to February’s concert on Sunday, Feb. 18. The band will play many of the traditional jazz tunes that are commonly heard in New Orleans, especially during this month’s Mardi-Gras celebration!
The Dixie Dads are an eight-piece Dixieland-style jazz band composed of local musicians and organized by bandleader John Schneider. The band has been in existence for two years, and has performed at a number of festivals and other events in Quincy and Hannibal.
Bob Havens is the band’s music coach, and has been guiding the musicians in their interpretation of New Orleans-style music. Havens had an illustrious career as jazz musician with Al Hirt, Pete Fountain and the Lawrence Welk Orchestra before retiring and returning to his native Quincy. He will be featured as a trombone soloist at this event.
In addition to Havens and Schneider, the musicians performing will be Jeff Schuecking, Les Fonza, Chardy Bangert, Corey Bowman, Todd Evans and Gary Bratton.
The concert will begin at 4 pm at the Salem Church (located at 9th and State Streets) in Quincy. Attendees should park in the lot on the north side of the church, and to enter through the handicap ramp on the Northwest corner of the church. The monthly series of concerts are free and open to the public, however, donations will be accepted at the door.
For more information about the concert or if you would like to perform, contact Phyllis Robertson, Program Coordinator, at 217-228-2866 or visit dixiedads.com.
This February we celebrate Black History Month with several events that recognize the achievements and roles of African Americans in our history. Below is an article about a memorial ceremony held this week to honor the first police officer to be killed in the line of duty, not only in Quincy, but in the state of Illinois, William H. Dallas. He was very courageous and broke down many barriers to accomplish things others in his generation we unable to do in the late 19th century. His heroic story has been the highlight of discussion among the community this month. Dallas’ actions have paved the way for future generations to protect those that need it the most.
By Richard Keppner
Historical Society of Quincy & Adams County and Civil War Roundtable
William Hall Dallas
1834 - 1876
One hundred and forty-four years after his death, Detective William Hall Dallas of the Quincy Police Department (QPD) received the honor he so heroically earned. A headstone was placed on his grave site in Woodland Cemetery. An identical marker for his wife was placed beside his grave site.
Born a slave in 1844, Dallas escaped and eventually found his way to Quincy, Illinois where he was helped by a local businessman, J.K. Van Doorn. However, fearing slave catchers, fled to Canada.
When African-Americans were permitted to enlist in the Union army during the Civil War, Dallas signed on with the 55th Massachusetts Infantry. Private Dallas was injured in a battle on Johnson Island, South Carolina in July of 1863. After many months of recuperation, he received a medical discharge and returned to the only real home he had ever known, Quincy.
He married Virginia (Jennie) Winn in 1868 and joined the QPD in 1874. In May of 1876, he and his partner were on a burglary stakeout in a barn where Washington School now stands, 1400 N. 8th Street. A gun battle ensued with the suspects, and tragically, Detective Dallas was fatally shot. He was buried in Woodland Cemetery, but no marker was ever placed on his grave site.
Jim Rost, a retired QPD detective, researched the story of William Dallas. In conjunction with the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County (HSQAC), he set out to give this brave Quincy police officer the recognition he deserved.
On Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, a large group, including numerous members of the Quincy Police Department, gathered at Woodland Cemetery, 1020 S. 5th Street, to dedicate the head stone that now marks his grave site.
After opening remarks by Beth Young, HSQAC and the Civil War Roundtable, Robert Copley, Quincy Police Chief, welcomed those gathered. Rost gave a brief history of this courageous man. New headstones for both Dallas and his wife were unveiled by Rost and Danyelle Harrison, Harrison Monuments, who graciously donated the material and labor for Dallas’ head stone.
After the unveiling, Reverend James Hailey of the African Methodist Evangelical Church led those gathered in a prayer. This was followed by the QPD Honor Guard giving the Last Call, and the American Legion Post #37 in conjunction with the Payson VFW honor guard presenting the traditional rifle salute. The ceremony ended with taps sounded by Beth Young.
R.I.P. Officer William Hall Dallas, one of Quincy’s finest.
By Kelsey Deters
Imagine being trapped inside for days while a hurricane rages outside, and the floodwaters rise. While you are safe and dry, you know that beyond your windows there are people who are in danger. These people are fighting to stay alive and save as many of their possessions as possible. Some of those people might even be the children you spend five days a week with discussing history, geography and the world around them. Chad Cleveland faced this reality in August 2017 during Hurricane Harvey.
Cleveland, a Quincy native, grew up in the Quincy Public School District and was continuously involved with the Music Department. After graduating high school in 2011 he attended Illinois State University and is now a fifth grade Social Studies teacher in Pasadena, Texas, a suburb of Houston.
As Hurricane Harvey swept through the area where he teaches, the Category 4 Hurricane dropped 51 inches of rain on the city and caused disastrous damage. Following the storm, Cleveland took action and quickly got to work helping the students at his school who were in need.
During the holiday season, Quincy helped in the effort too. At the school's yearly Vespers presentation, the Quincy High School Music Department took donations and raised an amazing $3,500 to support Clevleand’s efforts to assist his students.
“He did so much during his tenure at Quincy Senior High to make Vespers come to life for the enjoyment of the Quincy community, that it is now our turn to return the favor,” wrote Kathi Dooley, QHS Music Department.
In this blog post we are digging deeper to Cleveland's efforts in the storm's aftermath.
Read to the bottom to learn how you too can help! The following is the Q & A interview.
What arts related activities were you involved with while you were growing up in Quincy? Growing up in Quincy gave me so many opportunities to become involved in the arts. I started choir in the fourth grade at Baldwin and continued through senior year at Quincy High School. During high school I was involved in the show choir, participated in four musicals and was co-choir president.
Why did you decide to become a teacher? I decided to become teacher because of the opportunity to influence the future. The youth of the world are literally our future and I want our future to be brighter tomorrow because of the work done today. I also became a teacher because of the summer vacation opportunity. I use this opportunity to travel to different parts of the world to learn about culture and bring back these real life experiences for my students who do not have the same opportunities yet. For example, this summer I lived in Thailand for two months teaching English and learning about a culture completely different from my own.
How do you think your background in the arts influences your life and work today? Being involved with the music department and the arts taught me a great deal of discipline. The arts taught me how important preparedness, collaboration, and time management is. Being involved in shows and performance groups taught me how to always be on my toes and ready to change direction if needed, a huge help in the field of teaching. Teaching, in a way, is a performance every single minute of every single class. You have this plan of how the “show” is supposed to go but always have to be prepared for the unexpected.
Can you tell us about how Hurricane Harvey affected you and your students? Hurricane Harvey had a catastrophic impact on the community. I was fortunate to stay safe and dry during the storm personally, but there was always the fear of waking up and looking outside the next day to see water coming into the first floor of the apartment complex I lived in. It was an anxious waiting game for so many days. The worst part was that, while being trapped up in the apartment, on the news there were images of people swimming from their homes or trapped on their roofs. In one case, it was one of my students shown wading through three feet of water to get from their home to the National Guard boats. After the storm, about 90 percent of our students were displaced or unable to return home until the water receded weeks later; most lost everything in the floodwaters. We now still have 90 students that are technically homeless and many more that have had to move to new homes, a stressful situation for any student to have to go through.
What kind of things have you and your fellow teachers done for your students in the aftermath of the hurricane? We opened our school as a temporary place for our students and their families to have internet access to apply for FEMA, have fresh drinking water, and an air conditioned place to cool down for the week we were closed after the storm. We had many volunteers bringing in all kinds of donations from clothes to baby formula. Our staff went out into the community multiple times to bring them fresh milk, cereal, and hotdogs. For multiple days, we sat at our desks calling nearly 700 families to check on them to see what their needs were and just to know that they were in a safe and dry place. We took down names of the families that needed help and matched those with the donations already received. Teachers personally drove supplies to students’ homes and helped them clean up the mess. We have received so many donations from all around the country to help replace students’ clothes, school supplies, toys, and pay for things like food and gas, all because of the connections that our teachers have. As of today, those 90 homeless students still receive free lunches from our school and a bag of food every Friday to help support the families over the weekend.
Over Christmas you partnered with the QHS Music Department to raise money for your students. Can you tell us how that came about? I had reached out to Kathi Dooley after the storm to help put something together to help my students. Kathi and I have maintained a positive relationship since graduation and two of my younger brothers are still in high school. At the time, I did not know exactly what our students’ needs were or how far our current donations would reach. Once we evaluated what we needed after the news stories had moved onto other natural disasters, we could see how quickly donations were running out and how many families still needed help. That is when I called the Quincy Music Department again and Sarah Grawe, Kathi Dooley, and I came up with a plan to take a simple donation during the Vespers concert. Vespers was always something I was overly passionate about, so it could not have worked out any better.
What kind of impact will those donations from the Quincy community have on your students this year? These generous donations are being used in different phases. The first phase was to provide students with gifts for Christmas. In February, we will be allowing students to purchase books through our school’s Book Fair. The next phase will be to provide spring and summer clothing in early March before our students leave for spring break. With any leftover money, we will be providing students with sports equipment, summer pool passes, and other miscellaneous summer items. These donations are going for some essential items that students will need, like clothes, but they are also being used to give students a better sense of normalcy. With children, it’s all about their mental state. When a student receives a toy or item that is theirs, not a hand-me-down from a stranger, it gives them their humanity back.
Is there anything you would like to say to those who took the time to give to your students? I would like to say thank you. No amount of words can describe how thankful I am to have grown up in the Quincy community. Thank you for helping us give back out students’ humanity. Thank you for showing us that we are not forgotten in a world where every time we turn around there seems to be another natural disaster or cause to donate to. I am humbled to know that so many, so far away, care so much.
Is there a way people can continue to give to your students? The Quincy Music Department will still be accepting checks and cash for the cause and I hope to partner with them and the Friends of the Performing Arts this March during the Showcase of Excellence.
To assist in this effort, please contact the QHS Music Department by calling 217-224-3774.
Click here for details on the 2018 Showcase of Excellence on Saturday, March 10.