PBP Celebrates the Cook-Wissahickon Choir

Vibrant youth Choirs give children confidence and the opportunity to develop their gifts.

TheCW at JA Cook-Wissahickon (CW) Elementary School Choir is a growing success, now being touted as a school district-wide model.  For a budget and arts challenged school district like the City of Philadelphia, the CW Choir is an outstanding example of what internal vision, administrative support and community partnership can achieve.  As Choir Director Nick D’Orsaneo says: “Without our great Principal and our really terrific corporate partner, Ed Satell, who’s always there for us, these kids would be sitting around watching junk on tv at the end of the day.  Instead, they gain a lot of confidence from being part of something important, something our whole school community is proud of.  What a difference!”

Three years ago Nick came to Ed’s company, Progressive Business Publications, to ask for their sponsorship in starting a choir at CW.  High School choirs are all the rage, inspired by the popularity of movie and TV shows like Glee, but elementary choirs are few.  Nick believed the talented but untrained grade 3-8 students at CW needed to experience a fun and interactive performing choir to expand their skills and personal confidence.  He volunteered, without pay, to build such a choir.

Ed Satell is well known for his understanding of the value of developing human capital at an early age.  Inspired by Ben Franklin’s sage observation: “tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn,” Ed has long been involved in engaging, training and empowering young people of promise, in both his business and nonprofit initiatives.  He challenged Nick to put together an inclusive skill-building music program and agreed to be its sponsor.  The outcome of this challenge has been terrific!

By the end of its first year, the 40-student CW Choir performed for several big local events and participated in the Hershey Park PA competition.  ACW triumphed against several big high schools, winning the contest! The CW Choir was on a roll.

Nick established a summer “Choir Camp” in 2013 and their repertoire expanded.  Among other great events, during the 2013-14 school year the Choir performed at Lincoln Financial Field before a crowd of thousands for the Army-Temple game and marched in the Miss America Parade in Atlantic City performed in Philadelphia’s Thanksgiving Parade, and sang for the photo(4)Junior Achievement Hall of Fame.  When asked their favorite moment, however, Choir member Tymar said it was “Singing for Mr. Satell on his movie and at his special night.  He loves us, you know.”  The Choir was showcased in the Support Center for Child Advocacy (SCCA) Gala honoring Ed Satell.  The SCCA, founded by the Philadelphia Bar Association, asked Ed, as a role model, to accept the prestigious Judge Lois Forer Award for his commitment to improving the lives of disadvantaged children.  Previous honorees include former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and PA Governor Ed Rendell.

“Kids need opportunities and activities that help them grow in many ways.  They need to be part of something important, something that exciting and bigger than they are.  And they need to learn teamwork, dedication and discipline.  I’m very proud our CW Choir accomplishes that.” Commented Ed from the stage at the Award Event.  He shook each child’s hand as they exited – a great night for all!

The Choir began its 2014 Summer Camp today.