Scholarship highlights music program at North Hills
North Hills Senior High School alumnae Pat Hunter of Virginia and Karen Johnson of Connecticut are honoring the memory of their parents — Harold and Kathlyn Hunter — by making one of the largest scholarship donations in the North Hills School District's history.
The sisters recently contributed $30,000 to create the Hunter Music Scholarship for students at the Ross Township school. It will award at least $500 to one senior each year who is involved in the school's music program but is not pursuing music as a career.
“Music was always playing in our home,” explained Hunter, a 1961 North Hills graduate who sang in the school choir and played the violin in the school orchestra.
She fondly recalls family picnics, gatherings and holidays that inevitably would erupt into festive evenings of music, with their father playing the banjo; their mother playing the piano; and family and friends joining in with guitars, violins and singing.
“None of us became professional musicians, but we certainly used our musical talents with and for others,” said Hunter, who also played in the orchestra and string quartet and sang in the a cappella choir while attending Clarion State University before later joining the Mendelssohn Choir in Pittsburgh and the Madrigal Singers at Virginia Highlands Community College. She spent her career as a librarian at the college.
“We want to foster that same attitude of continuing to increase and use those talents throughout life as a living memorial to our parents.”
“We felt there are many other scholarship opportunities for students pursuing music as a career,” said Johnson, who played the flute in the high school's concert band, graduated in 1968 and continues to sing and play the English handbells for her church and community groups.
“After our parents retired to Florida, our visits often included performing at a retirement facility or singing in church,” Johnson said. “It was just part of our lives. And now that they're gone, it still is.”
Funds for the Hunter Music Scholarship will be provided by the interest earned on the principal.
Scholarship candidates must be nominated by a school-district music teacher and have a minimum 2.5 cumulative grade-point average through the first semester of their senior year. They also must write an essay on how music influences their life and goals, including how the scholarship could help them to achieve those goals. The recipient is selected by a committee appointed by the North Hills Senior High principal, appropriate administrators and faculty, including at least one music teacher.
One of this year's graduates — Elisabeth “Elsa” Spear, 18, of Ross Township — is the first recipient of the Hunter Music Scholarship.
While at North Hills, Spear played the French horn in the marching band and wind ensemble, in addition to performing in the past three senior high musicals. She plans to attend Geneva College in Beaver Falls to pursue a degree in English education.
“Elsa is a dynamic individual who excels academically and with her extracurricular activities,” senior high Principal John Kreider, 45, of Ross Township said. “We're always thankful for the generosity of our alumni. Karen and Pat are a special group of alumni. They are great, caring people with the best interests of the students at heart.”
Hunter said the scholarship looks both to the past and the future.
“This scholarship is to honor our parents' talents and memory and to encourage a young musician to share their musical talents throughout their life,” Hunter said.
“We think our parents would approve.”
Laurie Rees is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Photo Gallery: ‘Mission ...’ program at Northland Public Library
- McIntyre Elementary presentation to help parents navigate social media
- School planetariums continue to educate, amaze students
- More businesses expected at Pittsburgh North Regional Chamber career fair
- Aquinas Academy program highlights 20th-century writer
- Authors plan to meet fans at Northern Tier Library in Richland