by CINDY M. CRANMER A crowd started gathering Monday night, July 9 in downtown Rockford to hear an impromptu performance by the Rockford Aces. This is not unusual as the group returned from Cincinnati as the top finishing team in their category in points in the United States and third in the world. The team returned from the World Choir Games on Sunday, July 8. The seventh World Choir Games (WCG), which takes place every two years, was in the United States for the first time this year. Choirs from all over the world participated in the events that began July 4 and continue through Saturday, July 14. More than 15,000 participants from 64 nations including 362 choirs registered to compete in the biggest international choral competition in the world known as “the Olympics of choral music.” “This was just incredible. It was a music lover’s dream,” said Connor Jewell, who graduated after three years in the Rockford Aces. The goal of the WCG is to unite people from all nations through singing in peaceful competition. Hundreds of thousands of spectators gather to hear the performances in the 23 different categories and two divisions: champion and non-champion. The Rockford Aces is an all-male choir consisting of 12 Rockford High School students from freshman to seniors. They performed in the champion category due to their successes at state competitions. The Rockford A Capella Extracurricular Singers (ACES) are led by Jed Scott, a composer and arranger. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of this group,” said Jed Scott, husband of Rockford High School choir teacher, Mandy Scott. “Every challenge I threw at them they met it with a resounding yes.” The group was formed when the Scotts moved to Rockford in 2008. The two categories the group performed in at WCG were Young Male Choirs, which is a classical category for ages 25 and under, and Popular Choral Music, which was open to all ages. Groups received medals on a point system. Earning 80 to 100 points meant someone could get a gold medal, 60 to 80 points earned a silver, and 40 to 60 points earned a bronze. The Rockford Aces was the highest silver medalist in the Young Male Choirs category with two […]
Rockford High School
by CINDY M. CRANMER A passion for art that started when he was a child turned into a 35-year career of inspiring students at Rockford schools. Lakes Elementary School had its annual Art Make-and-Take event on Thursday, April 26. The man who was behind the creation of the event teaches art at Lakes as well as teaching at other Rockford schools. “This is about the 30th year of the art show at Lakes,” said Kenn Vidro, art teacher. Vidro started his teaching career at Rockford High School with Lakes Elementary becoming his “anchor” school when the district decided to start an elementary art program in 1983. Although he has taught some art classes as part of the art staff at the other elementary schools over the years, Vidro has never stopped teaching at Lakes since he started with the school’s art program. The students at Lakes, from the newest kindergarten student to students who graduated many years ago, think fondly of “Mr. V” and his passion for art. “Kenn Vidro is a legend around here,” said Lakes Elementary School Principal Blake Bowman. “His passion, his humor, his joy for teaching basically makes him the Pied Piper.” Bowman joked that if Vidro played tuba, there would be 500 students playing tubas. “A night like this is a great chance for the parents to see the magic the kids see everyday,” Bowman said. Vidro not only influences young artists, but is an accomplished artist himself. As summer is approaching, Vidro is contemplating what his third entry into ArtPrize will be. ArtPrize is an art contest that takes place yearly in Grand Rapids and gets applicants locally, from the United States as well as other countries. Cartooning and painting are among the art mediums Vidro most enjoys. Last year, his ArtPrize entry focused on a series of 14 paintings from rhyming riddle books. The books consist of word riddles called “square pears” that Vidro wrote and illustrated himself. The clues to the answers are given in the form of words and in the form of cartoon illustrations. The answer is always a set of rhyming words. He is considering doing a large “I spy” type painting for his 2012 entry. Hundreds of students and community members came out […]
The Golden R reunion, suggested by Lyle Bennet, was first sponsored in 1987 by the Rockford Area Historical Society in conjunction with Michigan’s Sesquicentennial celebration. Due to the great response from alumni, the original committee, headed by Clarence Blakeslee and Maxine Marcott, voted to make it an annual gathering to be held the last Saturday in June. This year the class of 1962 will be honored at the annual luncheon held in the Rockford High School cafeteria. Also in attendance will be members of previous graduating classes. Total attendance will exceed 325 this year. The Golden R Club also awards a scholarship to a high school senior. Each year, 35 former grads volunteer to bring the event to fruition.
Lending Library for youth staying at St. John’s Home by BETH ALTENA Every spring graduates of Rockford High School wrap up a major part of their lives to date: saying goodbye to friends who are off to spend summer elsewhere, leaving for college at different schools, realizing the group they have grown up with for the past 12 years are beginning a new phase of their lives. For Stephani Sawicki, the ending of her high school career coincides with her last days as a Girl Scout, another part of her life that has been so important to her. She will spend this summer making sure the legacy she leaves as a Scout is an excellent one that will improve the lives of kids in this area. Sawicki is working on creating a lending library for St. John’s Home in Grand Rapids—a project that will earn her the Girl Scout’s highest honor, the Gold Award, which is the equivalent of the Boy Scout’s Eagle Award. Ultimately, it will do much more than that. “I want to have books, chairs, posters, globes, to make a place where kids can go and escape into a world of reading,” she described. St. John’s home is a residential care home for children who have been removed from their family life due to severe neglect or abuse. With separate programs for younger kids, ages 6 to 12, and another for older kids, ages 13 to 17, the residences offer a place as youth either prepare to return to a rehabilitated family or for permanent placement. According to Sawicki, she heard about St. John’s from Candy Lancioni of Aunt Candy’s Toy Company. Lancioni had an uncle, now deceased, who was devoted to helping the boys and girls who found themselves at St. John’s, and would spend every weekend doing chores or spending time with the kids. According to Sawicki, there is little in the way of books there now, just a few on shelves, and no library. St. John’s has offered her a space to recreate with shelving, rugs, comfortable chairs, posters, bean bags, puzzles and games or other amenities to help the kids enjoy their reading time. From Aunt Candy’s she received a selection of books and a bright blue butterfly […]
Attention golfers: The green jackets are coming to Rockford on June 22! The Eagles Golf Tournament will be held at 3:00 p.m., Friday, June 22 at Boulder Creek Golf Club. The event is a two-person scramble (no shotgun start) for $55 each with food and drink provided. Two green jackets will be awarded to the winners. “We’re trying to keep it simple,” said tournament director Brian Mogg, “because the real focus is raising funds and awareness for Ray Smith and his family.” Ray is a local Rockford High School sophomore who has been battling leukemia for a year and a half. Although Ray made it through life-threatening infections, chemo and remission, the leukemia has returned. He is currently undergoing more intensive chemotherapy in hopes that he will be able to proceed with a bone marrow transplant. If you are interested in either playing or sponsoring the event, contact the tournament director via e-mail at email@example.com or by calling (616) 863-9500.