Everybody sings

LR Summer Youth Choral Camp grant provides free tuition to 20 local children

A student sings in an indoor choral classroom

Founded on the mission to serve local middle and high school students, the Lenoir-Rhyne Summer Youth Music (LRSYM) Choral Camp provides students with opportunities to enhance their musical talents. This year, the camp was able to increase available space to students in the community thanks to the Collaborative Arts Projects (CAP) Grant from the United Arts Council of Catawba County.

A new initiative, the CAP grant encourages collaborations among cultural and/or community nonprofit organizations for arts, science and history projects reaching underserved audiences.

Three students sing in an indoor classroom

“I’ve had it in my mindset for a number of years now to find a funding opportunity, someone who could partner with us to reach more students,” shared Chris Nigrelli, Ph.D., professor of music and director of the LRYSM camp. “I regularly check art granting sources, and was excited to see this new opportunity from the United Arts Council of Catawba County. They are our local arts leaders, and Ingrid Keller, their executive director is a strong advocate for educational endeavors.”

With many schools in Catawba County classified as Title I Schools — federally recognized as having low-income students — Nigrelli set out to help break down the barriers for these students while keeping the cost of the camp as low as possible. The $2,536.60 grant helped cover camper fees, a t-shirt, breakfasts and lunches for the week for 20 local students.

“Music programs in public schools have struggled during the pandemic given all the restrictions necessary for health and safety. But, the experience with the arts is all the more vital during these challenging times,” he said. “It helps students process and tackle the stressors and challenges of the pandemic, and builds community which they need for social and emotional support. I know that students will be energized and will bring that enthusiasm and passion back to their public-school classrooms.”

An instructor stands in front of a room of students with his back to the camera

The choral camp, which was held on the Lenoir-Rhyne University campus June 20-24, saw an increase in participants this year thanks to the CAP grant and the efforts of the LRYSM camp leaders.

“I am thrilled to see the camaraderie and to support the conversations, the excitement and enjoyment of making music. It was a wonderful week under Ryan Luhrs’ leadership,” said Nigrelli.

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