Teen completes Gold Award project
STACEY SOLT/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Tamaqua Area High School students Shane Mulligan and Lauren Christ demonstrate "tonal" percussion instruments during the first Panther Valley Percussion Ensemble concert. Christ organized the concert as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award with the help of Mulligan and Karina Derr.
Lauren Christ's Gold Award project was destined to be a thunderous success.
Christ completed the top award in Girl Scouts recently by organizing and presenting the Panther Valley Percussion Ensemble's first concert.
In doing so, she hopes this concert series will continue and inspire more young musicians who are interested in percussion instruments.
There were no woodwind, brass or string instruments at this concert. No microphones or speakers either, as Panther Valley High School Principal Joseph Gunnels pointed out in his opening remarks.
Because the concert was comprised of only percussion instruments, the musicians were able to project their sounds into the auditorium without amplification.
"Tonight, we're going to do something innovative and a first," said Gunnels. "I think you're going to find that it's one of the more interesting and creative performances we've offered."
The concert featured students from Panther Valley elementary and high school, all currently studying percussion instruments.
They performed a variety of pieces from the simple snare and bass drum "Rocket Launch Parade" to the complex and whimsical "The Merry Go Round Broke Down," which featured tonal percussion instruments such as the xylophone.
The students also demonstrated the more unique uses of percussion instruments in "Sunrise" and "Evening Sounds," using simple rhythms to recreate the sound of sunrise and a late summer evening.
While the concert featured students of all ages, it also showcased the talents of two high school musicians, Christ and friend Shane Mulligan. This presentation served as inspiration for the younger musicians, and also demonstrated the possibilities available to students who stick with percussion instruments.
Christ is currently a junior at Tamaqua Area High School. She chose to work with the Panther Valley School District's music departments because her father, Mark Christ, is the director of the Panther Valley High School band.
She has been studying music as a percussionist since fourth grade, and plans to major in business or writing after graduating from high school.
She was assisted with her project by Mulligan and Karina Derr, also students at Tamaqua Area High School. The concert program's cover art was completed by Denae Starry.
While Christ doesn't plan to pursue a degree in music in college, she did want to use her Gold Award project to bring music to local students and community members.
"Music is something that all people can enjoy and understand," she said, noting that she hopes her project's roots will grow into an annual event.
The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award offered by the Girl Scouts of the United States of America. To earn a Gold Award, the scout must be a Senior or Ambassador Girl Scout in ninth through 12th grade.
The award is earned by completing two "journeys" and a 60-80 hour project which betters the community.
The project includes identifying an issue in the community, getting help and building a team to address this issue, gathering feedback, taking action, and educating and inspiring others.
According to the official Gold Award guidelines, the project should also be designed to "develop yourself as a leader … and make a mark on your community that creates a lasting impact on the lives of others."
After the concert, as friends and musicians who had performed gathered to greet her, Christ felt confident that she had accomplished her goal. She feels strongly that music is a positive outlet for children and teens, and that by starting this annual concert series more children would be exposed to the positive side of percussion instruments.
"It's something a lot of kids want to do," she said of playing percussion. "It's a good way to get kids involved in something other than video games. I was amazed at the turnout. It's great to see so many people out to support the music program."
Students performing in the concert included Blake Morgans, Thomas Greco, Alexa Ruzicka, Amanda Fegley, Mercedes Weaver, Emily Devonshire, Megan Greenall, Emiline Markovich, Samantha Wildoner, Sarah Zabroski, Morgan Kadel, Steven Reehl, Judy Lin, Roxanne Person, Mercedes Anthony, and Jerdil Castillo.