Whidbey News-Times


Oak Harbor High School choir director earns Golden Apple Award

Whidbey News-Times Staff reporter
November 13, 2012 · 3:48 PM

Darren McCoy believes in the importance of his choir program contributing to the community. One way they have done this is by holding “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” a performance featuring well-known songs for the community’s enjoyment. / --

The Oak Harbor High School choir director sang his way to success with a strong program and for his work, received a prestigious award.

Darren McCoy earned a Golden Apple Award and he plans to use this distinction to speak to the Oak Harbor School District’s strengths and needs for the upcoming levy.

KCTS 9 presents the Golden Apple Awards annually to educators, programs and schools making a positive difference in Washington state education. McCoy  is one of 12 recipients this year.

KCTS 9 will film his classes for a day or two and film an evening rehearsal for a feature that will air on TV across the state. McCoy will attend a ceremony to receive his award.

“I’m very happy about it and excited to put that down on my resume, but I feel like an award like this, even though it’s given to a teacher, goes to the students who made the changes in the program,” McCoy said.

The trust, leadership and “making things happen in the community” from his students has positively affected the choir program at Oak Harbor High School, McCoy said.

In the five years McCoy has taught at the high school, a few ways he has transformed the choir program are by starting the Show Choir and the Man Choir and bringing the students’ talents into the community by performing at events, in retirement homes and even creating a community-wide “Thriller” zombie music video.

“It’s (the award) a testament to the administration’s support for art in schools,” McCoy said. The administrative staff juggled class schedules to allow more students the opportunity to explore music, McCoy said.

Substitute teacher Patricia McCutcheon nominated McCoy for the award. As McCoy’s most frequent substitute teacher, “she gets to be here with the kids, and one thing I really hold to is: ‘The object of teaching a child is to enable a child to get along without the teacher.’”

When she is in the classroom, the students lead rehearsals themselves. Student leadership is also dominant in concerts.

“They do all the magic behind the stage,” McCoy said, adding that students act as backstage managers, do costuming and makeup, set up and more.

As to how earning this award has affected McCoy, he said, “I’m going to keep on doing exactly as I’m doing because it seems to be working.”

What he ultimately hopes this award will gain for the school district is passage of the levy in February 2013.

“People need to know we can do the best with what we’ve got and even win a Golden Apple Award, but we need more money,” McCoy said. “It’s so incredibly important. If this levy doesn’t pass, it’s like doomsday for the schools.”

McCoy encourages the community to become educated about the levy and the programs that will be cut if the levy doesn’t pass.

“Money is directly tied to better grades and school success … Look, we’re doing the best that we can and even won an award, but ultimately, you guys are the ones who pay the bills, not us,” McCoy said.

McCoy and other community members will present the past 800 years of music through song and images at a lecture-recital at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17 at Oak Harbor High School. Tickets cost $5 and proceeds will be used to buy microphones for the department. Purchase tickets at the door or by emailing oakharborchoirs@gmail.com.


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