Hope can come from many places and in many shapes and sizes, but this past January, it came through an amazing group of high school students in the form of four- (or sometimes, twelve-part!) harmonies. Reynolds High School, in Winston-Salem, held their 13th annual Jam for Hope last winter, choosing Crossnore School & Children’s Home as their recipient charity.
Each year, the a cappella groups at Reynolds host Jam for Hope and they invite other high schools, colleges, and even middle schools to participate in an amazing a cappella choral concert that gives back to the community. The Jam is a donation-only event, but the community never fails to show up in full support. Because it is not a competition, the mood is relaxed, the energy is high, and the students excitedly support and encourage one another. The singers and audience feed off the energy and space of Reynolds Auditorium, and the positive tone and vibes of the event can be felt throughout the building. This year, all that goodness benefited Crossnore kids, who happen to live right across the street from Reynolds High School.
The concert was a huge undertaking for the students. Not only did they practice for months as they got ready to perform, but they planned the entire event as well. Choral Director, Michael Martinez, said that it took three months of planning, and the students began talking about it the first day of school. The students communicated with and organized 13 different choral groups from 13 different locations, totaling hundreds of student singers. They hired and coordinated all details with a professional sound company for the event, organized dinner orders for the participants, handled all communication and publication, scheduled minute-by-minute rehearsal sessions, and even served as student liaisons to the different groups on the night of the event. Many of the students showed up at 11am or earlier on the morning of the event, even though the Jam didn’t start until 7pm. It was a long day. But they say it was worth it.
Senior Megan Curling suggested Crossnore as the charity of choice this year, as she has close friends who are foster parents through Crossnore. Megan says she understands more about the need for foster care after walking with her friends through their journey over the last year. She was impressed with Crossnore and said, “I think what Crossnore does to help children – providing a safe environment, fostering love and growth – is amazing.” Being an across-the-street neighbor to Crossnore made the choice an easy one for the rest of the students. This was a cause that directly affected many of their very own classmates.
Many parents, students, and community members attended the event, bringing in $4,200 for Crossnore. Karen Morris, the Arts Magnet Director at Reynolds, projects there were around 1,500 people in attendance. “I love to see the kids use their passions and talents to help other people in their community. It’s really a wonderful thing. I hope it goes on and on forever,” said Morris. The colleges that participated in the event, including East Carolina, Appalachian State, and Lenoir-Rhyne, all have members who were former Reynolds a cappella singers. Glenn and Mt. Tabor High Schools participated, among others. Meadowlark Middle School also performed in the Jam, with a spectacular vocal percussionist who wowed the crowd during the beatbox competition after the concert.
Support from the Community.
Choral Director Michael Martinez said that the Jam is very well received and has made a name for itself in the community. Megan agreed. “Reynolds A Cappella is very driven by our community’s support. It was a great way to give back. It gave us a chance to spread appreciation, not only to the people who came, but also let us give back to the underserved.” Senior Emma Jones loved the event and stated, “There’s something special about singers and music lovers. I love that we get to bring them together for this event. And once we found out that we raised over $4,000, it was so rewarding. We had so many people in attendance. The whole balcony was filled up. Our group sounded the best we ever had that night. It was such an encouraging environment.”
Looking beyond ourselves.
Megan explained, as high school students, it’s easy to be complacent and unaware of others’ lives and struggles. “It would be easy,” she said, “to come and sing and do it all for ourselves, but we should take every opportunity to give back.” And the students have done that. Over the last 13 years, they have raised money for tsunami relief, the Second Harvest Backpack Program, Cancer Services, the Bethesda Center, a battered women’s shelter, and many others.
But this year, for Megan and the other students, it was personal. “As an adult I would like to foster kids,” she said. “And I just hope the money can expand the services being provided or can provide for even more kids. Anything [Crossnore] does with it will be good.” Emma added raising money through the Jam for Hope “creates unity among our peers, and it gives hope for the future.”
Witnessing these kids’ passion for others, their desire to use their gifts, and their hearts for service, it’s clear that the future is pretty bright.
To see the full 2019 Jam for Hope, visit https://bit.ly/2D6lGF4.