- Sponsorship -

To Squirrel Hill, with love

String quintet to honor victims of synagogue shooting

Amid the season of merriment and an annual holiday concert held to celebrate warmth and goodwill, Thursday’s event at the high school will begin with a unique tribute also meant to signify hope and unity.

A quintet of senior string players — Drew Johnston, Benny La, Onora Lancaster, and Owen and Audrey Pyper — will honor the members of the Jewish community of Squirrel Hill who were killed on Oct. 27 during a shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. They will perform “My Candles in the Window,” a traditional Hanukkah melody arranged by Brendan McBrien.

What: Holiday concert, middle and high school musicians

When: 7 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13

Where: EGR High School Performing Arts Center

Cost: free, but attendees are invited to bring canned and boxed food to be donated to Arbor Circle

“We always try to make our music more than just a high school concert, and to carry the theme of harmony throughout the year,” said Drew.

The piece also will be dedicated to any in the audience who find the holiday season a time of loneliness, sadness or grief.

“I think it’s so pertinent that people — especially high school students — know that it’s OK to address this,” said Onora.

For the holiday concert, the music department strives to make sure the program represents different cultures and religious celebrations, such as Hanukkah.

As she was driving to school a week or so after the shooting in Pittsburgh, orchestra Director Mary Hillyard heard a segment with survivors and members of the Squirrel Hill community.

“It was so very moving that I felt I could not let this opportunity go,” Hillyard said. “I knew I had this particular piece in our library, and I knew our students felt strongly about the power of music to reach out globally. So I presented the idea, and (students) wanted to do it.”

Also on Thursday, the seventh- and eighth-grade orchestras will join the high school orchestra for the first time. Each orchestra will first perform their own songs of the season, and then combine for the Trans Siberian Orchestra’s version of “Carol of the Bells” called “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24.”


Concert honors passionate but humble journalist and musician

- Sponsorship -
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.


The year of learning differently

SNN asked a sampling of students from across the county how it’s going for them so far in a school year of multiple instruction models...

‘I want it to look happy’

With help from generous donors, elementary teachers worked to make welcoming, kid-friendly space while following the rules of social distancing and sanitation...

New VP says ‘It feels like joining a family’

Aaron Romoslawski is the new vice principal of Sparta High School. He takes over for Stacey Rumsey, who was named Sparta High School principal last spring...

The changing of guard – as long-time educator and AD welcomes a new one

Godwin Heights Football Coach Brandon Kimble will take over as the district’s athletic director when Robert Hisey, dean of students and athletic director, officially retires Nov. 2...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Making the best of it

Students, parents, teachers and others share their feelings about the start of this unprecedented school year...

Here come the students; schools try to be ‘prepared for everything’

Area school districts have to be able to switch instruction plans if the pandemic fires up again, and be prepared for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak in one of their schools...

Ready or not, school year begins as leaders adopt plans to teach, protect students

With most of Kent County’s public school districts opening next week, superintendents talk about their plans to educate students while trying to keep them safe from an unpredictable virus...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU