Congratulations to Our 2017 Scholarship Winners!

Six scholarships awarded at Choir’s Spring Concert on May 21

The GCCC Scholarship program was established in 2010 to provide funding for students to pursue higher education. Scholarship funds are held in trust by the choir and not disbursed until such time that the chorister commences his or her higher education.


Kumbah Givens of Williamstown has been a member of the Gloucester County Children’s Choir for two years. Kumbah is graduating this year from the Gloucester County Institute of Technology (GCIT), where she participates in tennis, soccer, and track. She also participates in many charitable activities, including performing missionary work in Jamaica, Liberia and within the United States through FaithSeeders Ministries, and raising scholarship money and other resources for a school in Liberia through the IAD School Association. Kumbah volunteers in her church nursery and on its worship team. She serves as President of the Gloucester County Branch of Afro-Academic Cultural-Technological Scientific Olympics and as President of GCIT’s African American Culture Club. In her scholarship application, Kumbah described how welcome she felt upon joining the choir and related that she has been able to perform classic songs that her parents had sung in choirs. She feels academically enriched by her time in the choir, stating, “… my musical horizon has been broadened, …[and] my knowledge of music theory has been strengthened…Being under [Mrs. Richardson’s] direction has allowed me to hone my music reading skills and has also helped my vocal tonal quality … Through learning these things, I feel more confident and sure as a musician.” Kumbah’s favorite choir memory is singing at the United Methodist nursing home in Pitman for Christmas, stating that “[t]he energy was great, and everyone there seemed so happy.” Kumbah plans to attend Rowan University in the fall. She expects to continue in music by taking voice lessons in college, instrumental courses in piano and guitar, and participating in musical theatre at school or in the community. Congratulates to Kumbah on her accomplishments, and best wishes as she pursues her academic studies!


Claire Headley is graduating this year from the engineering program at Gloucester County Institute of Technology (GCIT). Claire resides in Pitman and has been a member of the Gloucester County Children’s Choir for nine years. At school, she participates in Key Club and in Skills USA, where her team recently won Gold in the State competition and is advancing to National in June, and she has been inducted into the National Honor Society and the National Technical Honor Society. She volunteers for Family Promise, Ronald McDonald House Cathedral Kitchen, the United Methodist Church at Pitman, and New Life Fellowship. Claire’s favorite choir memory is the trip to Washington, DC, “because of its educational value both in music and history through the museums and singing with the Maryland State Boys’ Choir.” In her scholarship application, Claire described her development as a leader, stating Responsibilities, obligations, compromise and fairness are all qualities a great leader should possess… When necessary, I have helped others to comprehend the difficulties of classical music… I have especially enjoyed working with younger Choristers by sharing my enthusiasm and love for the Choir.” Claire also credits her musical experiences in contributing to her academic success, stating that, “It’s a proven fact that music programs help develop creativity, enhance cooperative learning, score higher scholastically and instill disciplined work habits.” Claire also credits her participation in the choir with enabling her to gain confidence, relating that, “Singing in front of diverse audiences has given me the confidence to feel comfortable and behave professionally around new people and new situations.” She plans to study nursing at Rutgers University in the fall, and plans to keep music a part of her life. Congratulations to Claire, and best wishes as she continues her academic career!


Isabel Pontes of Wenonah is graduating from the Gloucester County Institute of Technology (GCIT) and has been a member of the Gloucester County Children’s Choir for five years. Isabel has been inducted into the National Honor Society and the National Technical Honor Society, where she participates in fundraising and volunteers at events. She was chosen this year to be one of only eight GCIT students to be a red shirt (student ambassador), giving tours of GCIT to guidance counselors. Isabel plays Irish flute and whistle at a local coffee house and at Irish festivals and events. Isabel volunteers at Cathedral Kitchen. Isabel states in her scholarship application that “the choir has helped me to grow socially, academically, and as a leader.” She notes that the friendships she has made in the choir and the confidence she has gained through participation in the choir gave her confidence to become successful academically, stating, “GCCC gave me a release and a happy place so I could do well in school.” Isabel also credits the choir with helping her to learn leadership skills, saying, “I transitioned from being a follower to a leader not only in the choir but in my personality also.” Isabel’s favorite choir memory is the tree lighting at Pitman Manor last year. “It was always such a pleasure to spend time with the elderly there!” she said, adding, “They always were so gracious, and I always felt like I was doing something good in the world.” Isabel will be attending American University in the fall. She plans on being involved in college choirs and a capella groups. Congratulations to Isabel on her achievements, and good luck in her future studies!


Tess Derenberger is a junior at Pitman High School. She has been a member of the Gloucester County Children’s Choir for eight years. Tess participates in madrigals, field hockey, winter track, spring track, Key Club, Drama Club, the Prom Committee, and the South Jersey Edge Club field hockey team. She has been inducted into the National Honor Society and the Tri-M Honor Society. She serves as Class Treasurer and as Secretary of Students Against Destructive Decisions. Tess’ favorite choir memory was “attending the trip to Washington, D.C., and singing in front of many people and also getting to hear other choirs and types of music.” In her scholarship application Tess describes how participating in the choir trainer her “to become a diligent worker and to be focused for a long period of time,” which “has positively affected my work ethic in school and has resulted in good grades.” Tess also related that, as a member of the choir, “I have made countless new friends each year and have also greatly improved my musicianship.” Finally, Tess shared that her participation in the choir helped her through battling an illness that affected her self-confidence, since “music served as an escape from being sick, … and helps me to deal with stress… I always felt accepted at choir and I could be myself and share a common musical interest with each person there.” Tess plans to major in biology and ultimately attend medical school to become a neonatologist or surgeon.   Congratulations to Tess on her scholarship award. We are looking forward to hearing Tess continue to share her talent with the choir next year!


Gabrielle Monet Johnson of Vineland has been a member of the Gloucester County Children’s Choir for three years and is a homeschooled student with dual enrollment at Rowan College at Gloucester County. She participates in various curricula, including Alpha Omega, Classical Conversations, and Memoria Press. Gabrielle participates in Praise Dance at church, Levoy Theater Summer Camp, and kickboxing. Her favorite choir memory is performing at nursing homes, where she feels a personal connection as she has a relative who resides in a nursing home. “I know how lonely and depressing it can be sometimes, she says. “When we sing, I love the fact that we can brighten someone’s day and make them smile.” Gabrielle enjoys participating in the choir due the many friendships she has made. She credits Mrs. Richardson with helping her to “gain more confidence in my voice and also in myself.” Gabrielle enjoys singing songs in different languages, stating that, “This has helped me to appreciate all genres of music and languages I never thought I’d be singing.” Gabrielle plans to attend Rowan College at Gloucester County and Thomas Edison State University as a Theatre/Drama major. Congratulations to Gabrielle. We are looking forward to her continued participation in the choir next year.


Marissa Lovelace-La Pierre has been a member of the Gloucester County Children’s Choir for nine years. Marissa resides in Pitman and attends the Gloucester County Institute of Technology (GCIT). She volunteers as an assistant hairstylist at Pitman Manor and is competing this year for Miss Pitman with a talent of singing. Marissa’s favorite memory is the choir’s trip to Austria. In her scholarship application, Marissa described the diversity of people she has encountered in the choir and states that this exposure “not only makes a person non-judgmental, but also accepting and willing to help others no matter their race, orientation, religion, disabilities, language, etc.” She explained that the assistance she had received from older choristers encouraged her to now “try to help the younger members by passing on pointers that hopefully will help them to be amazing.” Marissa credits Mrs. Richardson with broadening her perspective through travel to Europe and by teaching the choristers songs in many languages. She states that “Choir is my second home, and I wouldn’t have changed that for the world.” Marissa plans to attend Rowan College at Gloucester County and hopes to become a professional singer. Congratulations to Marissa as she enters her senior year. We are looking forward to seeing and hearing her in the choir again next year!

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