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Providence choir aiming high

WTVI pledge-drive to award money for local high schools

by Morgan Smith

Forty-three members of Providence High School’s chamber choir sing in the studio at WTVI. The group had a pre-live recording at the station for the My School Rocks pledge-drive set for Saturday, April 21, that raises money for WTVI. Photo courtesy of Beth Holmquist

One Providence High School choir is vying for public attention and recognition from the south Charlotte community this weekend, when they compete on Saturday in the third annual My School Rocks fundraising competition.

Eight high school choirs from Charlotte, Concord, Mooresville and South Carolina are participating in a competition to support WTVI, a public television station that covers the central Carolinas and has a mix of programs aimed to inform, educate and promote citizenship. But the question isn’t which choir is the best; rather which choir can raise the most money.

The fundraiser is a pledge-drive where each school will perform two songs live at the station. Whoever can raise the most amount of money for WTVI in the name of their school can win prize money of their own.

Forty-three students from Providence High School’s choir are participating in the competition for the first time and choir director Terri Setzer said, if her students can spread the word enough, she thinks they have a great chance of taking home the grand prize of $5,000.

“We have more in our high school than most schools – around 2,400 students – if we can just get people at our school to support us, we’ll be good,” Setzer said.
And the school needs the money.

Setzer said most funding for the choir program, which serves around 350 students, comes from fundraisers and parent support. Just this past year, the school received less than a $1 per choir student from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, which in recent years cut down on the arts budget.

“We have so many needs… a lot of people think we have everything, but we’re taking a really big trip next year, we have to pay for new music or any travel, whether it be to a local middle school or retirement home,” Setzer said, adding that if the group wins the money, most would go toward transforming the classroom and maybe adding a new projector, classroom laptop and updated software.

“I’m sure CMS is giving what they can give, but it’s just a small token,” Setzer added. “I know times are tough, but we really do have to work really hard to generate funds.”

And that’s just why WTVI focused on high school choirs for their program. Jere S Thomas, the coordinator for the drive, said the station started the program three years ago not only to benefit WTVI but to help highlight and promote high school choirs when times were especially tough financially.

“Because of budget cuts from school systems, the choir programs were getting cut,” Thomas said. With this program, “everybody wins,” Thomas added.

Both Setzer and Thomas say the drive is a great opportunity for students to perform in a different medium than what they’re used to.

“It’s so important to keep live performance healthy and fresh,” Setzer said about the chance to perform in a studio. “With the age of technology… we don’t want to let that side of the performing industry die out. What live performance does for a student’s confidence – it just has so many positive influences across the board.”

This year, schools that receive second and third place also will have the chance to take home prize money: $1,500 for second and $1,000 for third. Each school will perform two songs, Saturday night, starting at 7 p.m.

If you’re not in the WTVI viewing area, you can watch a live stream of the show online at

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One Response

  1. What a great program! Good luck Providence!

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