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.

makaylaMakayla Clements (right) of Mantua is graduated 2016 from West Deptford High School in the top 10% of her class. She has been a member of the choir for eight years. Makayla’s favorite choir memory is singing ‘Do-a-Deer’ from “The Sound of Music” on a rainy day in Austria during the choir’s 2009 trip. Her artistic activities include the Deptford Senior Citizen Home Holiday Choir Performance, West Deptford Library “Lights of Love” Choir Performance, Symphonic Band, West Deptford High School Stage Crew, and six years’ participation in the Hobo Band Summer Program. Academically, Makayla is a member of the National Honor Society and Gifted and Talented Club, and she participated in the Academic Cultural Technological and Scientific Olympics.

Makayla is a talented athlete, having achieved a third-degree black belt in karate from Okinawan Kenpo Karate. She has taught self-defense to her West Deptford Girl Scout troop and participated in a karate performance at the Woodbury Fall Festival Parade. Makayla is a member of the Pitman Road Church of Christ Youth Group and participates in many community service activities, including Pitman Sunset Auditorium Graffiti cleanup, Rotary Club Christmas service project at a women and children’s homeless shelter, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure team member, volunteer at the National Paralyzed Veteran Wheelchair Games, service activities with People to People in Zaragoza, Spain and Assisi, Italy, panelist on the Bethany Baptist Church’s “Girl Power” program, student representative of Success First and facilitator of its Challenge for Champions Program, and participant in the Camden City “Harvestfest” Thanksgiving Food Drive. Makayla is also active in her high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, Pride and Awareness of All Cultures (PAAC) Club, and Anime Club.

In the essay for her scholarship application, Makayla related the unique skills she has learned during her years in the choir, describing GCCC as “the closest thing to a cooperative sport that I have ever participated in.” Since “each and every member of the group has a part in making the choir sound great,” Makayla explained that “this kind of group responsibility has helped me throughout my high school career with group projects.” Makayla also discussed how the concept of balance and blend so necessary to a choir has helped her in leadership roles, stating, “Achieving a good balance means knowing when to bring out the melody and when to let the other parts shine…A good sense of balance is the good leader’s key to victory.

Finally, Makayla described how being in the choir has helped her learn to relate to others. “Although each one of us is different,” she stated, “we are united by the cause of making music…The ability to work with others towards a common goal is essential to getting work done and a more diverse, cohesive team has a better chance of success.” Makayla plans to attend Spelman College and to continue in music as a member of Spelman’s Glee Club and the Atlanta University Centerwide Symphony. We wish Makayla the best of luck in her academic career and beyond!



Claire Headley, (center) a senior  from Pitman, has been a member of the choir for eight years. Clair attends the Gloucester County Institute of Technology’s Academy of Engineering and holds a 3.8 GPA. She was recently inducted into the National Honor Society and the National Technical Honor Society. Claire describes her favorite choir memory as “when looking into the crowd smiling the audience is smiling or crying back at me because the choir and I are touching them with beautiful music.”

In addition to her academic achievements, Claire is active in her high school’s Jazz Band, Key Club and Skills USA. She has volunteered at the Pitman Manor, Ronald McDonald House, Cathedral Kitchen in Camden, Family Promise of Gloucester County, and local park clean-ups. In her essay, Claire described how excited she was to finally become a member of the choir at age nine, having watched her older cousin in performances for several years prior. She related how participating in the choir has helped her to be a leader, saying, “I’ve helped fellow choristers understand the complexities of classical music, helping them to pronounce different foreign languages and helping them to understand key changes. I have especially enjoyed working with the younger Choristers by sharing my enthusiasm and love for the Choir.”

Claire enjoys volunteering and has particularly enjoyed performing with the choir at local nursing homes. “Watching the residents’ eyes light up from our music fills me with joy,” she says. Claire also recognizes that “music programs helps students score higher scholastically, and as a universal language, music unites people and comforts them in time of need…So, I would like to call on the “power of music” now to help me with my calculus!” Claire believes that her involvement with the choir has made her a much nicer and more understanding person, and feels the choir has been particularly blessed by Mrs. Richardson’s dedication and example. Claire has not decided which college she is going to attend, but is sure that music will always be a part of her life. Congratulations to Claire on her scholarship. We are looking forward to her participation in the choir next year and to seeing her future achievements.


4Isabel Pontes (left) is a senior from Wenonah and has been with the choir for four years. She attends the Gloucester County Institute of Technology and is in the top 5% of her class. Isabel’s favorite choir memory was attending a performance of the Lion King with her fellow choristers, saying, “Spending time with some of my best friends just made the memory more worthwhile.” Isabel’s artistic pursuits include playing the Irish Whistle and participating in an Irish musical group, participating in Summer Theatre Camp at Pitman Broadway Theatre as Gangster and Maid in “The Drowsy Chaperone” and as Little Inez in “Hairspray,” singing in the Rowan University Summer Choral Camp, and taking dance classes in flamenco, ballroom, swing, latin and international styles.

At GCIT, Isabel is a founder member of the school’s Gospel Choir and serves as a “Red Shirt” volunteer for Freshman Orientation and Parent Night. Isabel is an active member of the Rock Church, participating in the Youth Group and Worship Team and serving as a teen mentor and Sunday School teacher. Isabel has participated in many service activities, including a mission trip to Jamaica, peer counseling and community service for Youth-Based Family Services BRANCH, business education and leadership training, competition and service learning with The Indus Group Young Entrepreneurs, a service learning program at Horn Point Marine Laboratory, University of Maryland with the Center for Talented Youth, and participating in the shoe donation project for “Santanya” Home for Children with HIV. She was also a member of a competitive and performance speech and debate team with the Institute for Cultural Communicators.

Isabel credits the Gloucester County Children’s Choir, and her mother who encouraged her to join the choir, with fostering her love of participating in the arts. Isabel stated in her scholarship application essay that “I have developed some amazing friendships with other members, whom I believe will be lifelong friends. No matter our age, religion or gender, the choir has become a family.” She added her observation that “singers are a rare breed…More typical people don’t understand why singers would ever want to practice so long or stand on a stage wearing an itchy black dress with pinched shoes. For us, …feeling the energy of the crowd cheering is something we wouldn’t trade for anything!” Isabel credits her time with GCCC with giving her the confidence to perform in public, learn a new instrument, and dance in a musical. “Without GCCC,” she said, “I don’t think I would be the same person.”

Isabel has not yet decided where she attend college, but is considering studying International Affairs at American University. She hopes to continue singing in a college choir and eventually to participate in a church or community choir. She also plans to continue playing the Irish Whistle and flute, and to include the “music on motion” of ballroom and international dance in her life as well. Please join us in congratulating Isabel on her achievements and wishing her the best as she continues to participate in the choir next year and to determine her future path.


Aaron Hall of Franklinville has been a member of the Gloucester County Children’s Choir since 2010. Aaron is graduating from Delsea Regional High School and plans to attend college in the fall. Having been accepted to six colleges and universities, he has a tough decision to make! Aaron is active in his church, school and community, serving as a Youth Council member of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey and as an acolyte, reader and Eucharistic minister at his church. He has participated in mission trips to Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, and to the Jersey shore for Hurricane Sandy relief. Aaron plays basketball at his high school, and is a member of the Junior Black Cultural League. He serves his community by participating in basketball training and serving as a Civil Air Patrol cadet. Aaron’s favorite Choir memory is the choir’s trip to Washington, D.C.   While Aaron does not plan to study music in college, he intends to continue to participate recreationally, having stated in his scholarship application that “working with the Choir has made me become not only a better singer, but has also given me more knowledge of how music is composed, written, and sung. It helped me realize and be able to read and sing music that I’ve never seen before on the fly.” Aaron credits his time with the Gloucester County Children’s Choir as a learning and growth experience that he can take to college and beyond. “The Gloucester County Children’s’ Choir has helped me to be able to do things in public and operate/perform/work in front of crowds … It has helped me to cooperate and work with all different kinds of people,” he stated.   Aaron distinguished the teamwork he learned in the choir from the type of teamwork required in his sports activities, explaining that “In most sports, One person can single handedly change the course of the game to create a successful win. In a choir, everyone has to be up to a certain standard or skill level. If the full choir is not up to that level, the whole sound of the choir is off … It’s vital that everyone must … be on the same page.”  Aaron also explained that having to learn musically pieces quickly and by memory aides in his high school academics by helping him to learn large amounts of materially quickly, saying, “I thought back to the repetition of how the choir practiced and it helped me out a lot.” Please join us in congratulating Aaron and wishing him great success in his collegiate career.

Andreas Manuel Pontes has been a member of the Gloucester County Children’s Choir since 2012. Andreas is from Wenonah and is graduating from the Allied Health and Medical Science Academy of Gloucester County Institute of Technology as a highly accomplished student. He plans to attend either Johns Hopkins University with a major in Chemical/Biomolecular Engineering or Rowan University with a major in Biomed Engineering. At GCIT, Andreas is a member of the swim team, Skills USA, and Peer Support and Service Learning. He studies piano, playing regularly for residents at Pitman Manor Nursing Home. Andreas is very involved with service projects in his church and community, participating in his church’s youth group, worship team, and healing rooms, and serving as a Sunday School Assistant and Teen Mentor.   He has participated in Homes of Hope, a housebuilding project in Jamaica, and the Santanya Shoe Project for children with HIV in Pune, India. Andreas has also participated with the Institute for Cultural Communications in speech performance, leadership and the debate team, and in Living Classrooms with the Center for Talented Youth. Andreas’ favorite choir memory is “interacting with my fellow singers every Wednesday and making friendships that will last for years.”  While he does not intend to formally continue with music in college, Andreas hopes to participate in a campus choral group and in musicals, having enjoyed performing as Aldolpho in The Drowsy Chaperone last summer. Although Andreas initially joined the Gloucester County Children’s Choir due to his sister’s participation, he quickly blossomed with the group, remarking in his scholarship application that “I have transformed from a person who could barely keep a tune, to one who loves to sing and can now spontaneously harmonize with or without a musical score.” Andreas credits the choir with helping him to be able to perform in front of large groups of people, to give oral presentations, to join a speech and debate club, and to win a lead singing and dancing role in a musical production. His choir experiences also inspired Andreas to volunteer as a pianist at a local nursing home and to join his church worship team, stating that “these activities would never have happened if it were not for Mrs. Richardson … She knows how to bring out the best in each one of us …,” adding, “Thanks to her leadership, I have gained skills in learning to sing on pitch, perform in public and have more confidence in all aspects of my life.” Andreas also noted the friends he made among his fellow choristers, explaining that “they truly included me and made me feel welcomed to the group.” Congratulations to Andreas on his accomplishments and best wishes to him in his studies.

Kaylin Young of Logan Township is graduating from Kingsway Regional High School and has been a member of the Gloucester County Children’s Choir since 2006. Kaylin plans to attend Howard University in the fall and intends to participate in the college choir. Her favorite choir memory is traveling to Vienna, Austria. Kaylin takes private voice lessons with Mrs. Richardson and, like many of her fellow choristers, participates in many service and community activities, including Delta GEMS and Academy, Nordstrom BP Fashion Board, Fashion Club, Culture’s Club, and FCA. In her scholarship application, Kaylin credits the Gloucester County Children’s Choir with teaching her “to approach new situations with confidence and to welcome new members with open arms and expectations of greatness,” having related that Mrs. Richardson strongly encouraged her participation in the choir despite her initial discomfort upon becoming part of an already-established group. She states that the choir has taught her the importance of relying on others, explaining, “With high expectations of others come an acceptance that one person cannot uphold the whole group … When each chorister puts forth his or her best effort it is easy to trust that we will sound excellent.” Kaylin also expresses that her participation in the choir has taught her the value of teamwork, stating that “To sound our best, we also have to work together under the direction of our (flawless) choir director. The choir has not accomplished any great title or competition on the voice of one person, we have accomplished it together.” She beautiful summarizes the benefits gained from her time with the choir by stating that, “Along the way, I have made everlasting friendships, traveled across the world and grown into a young lady who feels prepared to take on the next phase of life with confidence, acknowledging the importance of relying on others who want to help me and teamwork.” We extend our congratulations to Kaylin and wish her great success in her academic career.

Robert Kramer is graduating from Washington Township High School with excellent academic credentials and has been a member of the Gloucester County Children’s Choir since 2008. Bobby, a resident of Sewell, will be attending either Fordham or Elizabethtown in the fall, where he hopes to minor in music. In addition to singing with the choir, Bobby sings in his high school chorus, with his church’s Inspiration Choir, and in the Episcopal Diocese Choir Camp. He is active in his church, where he has been a member of the Diocesan Youth Council for two years and has participated in two mission trips to aid the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Bobby is a Black Belt in karate, having studied since the age of four. A Boy Scout since age eleven, Bobby is presently a Life Scout who is working toward Eagle Scout. In addition to service projects with the Boy Scouts, Bobby regular participates in the CROP Walk, volunteers with Family Promise of Gloucester County, and volunteers with the food bank Kitchen of Hope, where he was recognized as Youth Volunteer of the Year in 2013. Bobby’s favorite choir memory is the trip to Austria. Bobby states in his scholarship application that the choir “helped me develop my personal skills throughout my tenure with the group” and that “the choir has played an undeniable part in the development of my character,” particularly with regard to increasing his comfort in social situations. He describes how the older members of the choir made him feel welcome and increased his confidence by expand his comfort zone along with his musical ability. “With every year I was in the choir,” reports Bobby, “it felt more and more like a family.” Booby describes how his participation in choir helped him to overcome his shyness, stating that, “Now, I am much more willing to try new things, having joined multiple clubs and taking higher level classes in high school,” to which in turn he credits his acceptance to his top choice colleges. “if it weren’t for the choir, I would not be the person I am today, and most certainly would not be as excited about the future,” says Bobby. Please join us in congratulating Bobby on his accomplishments and wishing him success in his academic pursuits.

Kyle Hayes of Woodbury Heights has been with the Gloucester County Children’s Choir since 2009 and is graduating from Gateway Regional High School. After graduation, Kyle plans to serve his country as a member of the United States Marine Corps. He hopes to continue to sing in a Marine Corps choir. Kyle is active in his high school’s marching band, madrigals, and bowling club. He recently aced the starring role of Bert in his high school’s production of Mary Poppins to great acclaim. Kyle also participates in the U.S. Marine Corps’ Poolee program. His favorite memory of the choir is the trip to Europe. In his scholarship application, Kyle credits the choir as having helped him in many ways, describing the choir as “a fun activity, a way to grow personally, as well as a good way to make friends… I will always be able to look back on GCCC as a helpful and useful experience. “   He also describes the choir as a good leadership trainer, stating, “Once I became a junior in high school, there was an influx of new younger choir members. I was forced to take a more prominent leadership role both in my section as well as in the choir as a whole. This will be vital in my time in the Marine Corps.” Congratulations to Kyle on his accomplishments and best wishes to him in his military service.

Makayla Clements of Mantua is a junior at West Deptford High School and has been a member of the Gloucester County Children’s Choir since 2008. She plans to attend Johns Hopkins University or Brown University, and to continue to sing and play the flute in college. Makayla is involved in many musical, service and community activities. She participates in community performances with the choir, in High School Symphonic Band and Stage Crew, and in the Hobo Band Summer Program. Her service includes the Pitman Sunset Auditorium Graffiti Clean-Up, Rotary Club Christmas Service Project at a homeless shelter, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure team member, National Veteran Paralyzed Wheelchair Games volunteer, and activities in the People to People Program with the visually impaired and with mentally challenged children. She is a member of her church’s youth group and is a Success First Student Representative.   Makayla is in her school’s Anime Club, Gay-Straight Alliance, Pride and Awareness of All Cultures (PAAC) Club, and Gifted and Talented Club. She is a third degree karate black belt, participating in the Woodbury Fall Festival Parade’s Karate Performance and serving as a self-defense instructor for a Girl Scout troop. Makayla’s favorite choir memory is singing “Doe, a Deer” from The Sound of Music on the steps of the garden in Austria. In her scholarship application, Makayla describes the Gloucester County Children’s Choir as having shaped much of her youth, put talent in perspective, and encouraged her to expand her social horizons. Makayla states, “Mrs. Richardson and her staff have exposed me to some of the most talented and musically educated individuals in the South Jersey area. I … realize how advanced I really am when it comes to reading music and really understanding the theory, and this is because of the Gloucester County Children’s Choir experience.”  Makayla credits the choir with having helped her socially by exposing her to wide age ranges within one group, describing the advice she received from older members when she first joined, and how as a an experienced chorister she now can mentor the younger members. She appreciates the diversity of the group as well, saying, “The choir has provided me an opportunity to interact with a diverse set of comrades … The one thing we all have in common is our love of music and true and everlasting friendships.” We extend our congratulations to Makayla and look forward to her leadership in the choir as she enters her senior year.



During the Choir’s Spring concert, six members were awarded scholarships for their academic performance and active involvement with the choir. 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 high education.

Kaylin Young, of Swedesboro, was awarded the top prize in the Gloucester County Children’s Choir Scholarship Program for the 2013-2014 season. Young, who has been a member of the choir since 2006, graduated from Kingsway Regional High in June 2015.

An active member of the choir who participated in the choir’s 2009 trip to Vienna, Austria, Young is active in her school and in her community. She participated in: Delta GEMS, Nordstrom Fashion Board; Drama Club; Culture Club; and Students United for Respect and Equality, where she serves as Secretary.

“The best lesson being in GCCC has taught me is that beauty can be found in everything. There have been nights when drowsiness overtakes me and I know I have to go home to more homework and my agitation is hitting the roof. But then I hear the alto section sing their part so flawlessly… and I have to smile,” said Young in her Scholarship essay.

Young will receive $500 upon her high school graduation to be applied to her future studies.

In addition to Young’s $500 award, five exemplary young people received $250 scholarships this year through the GCCC Scholarship program.

Bobby Kramer, of Sewell, who attends Washington Township High School, has been a member of the GCCC since 2008. Kramer is also active in several community and school activities including: Karate; Boy Scouts; Episcopal Diocesan Council; and volunteering with Kitchen of Hope and with Family Promise of Gloucester County. He is also a member of the Washington Township High School Chorus and Inspiration Chorus at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Glassboro.

“It was through the GCCC that I was given a deeper appreciation for music; one which allowed me to pursue music in other places, “ wrote Kramer in his Scholarship essay. “(GCCC) will always be the seed that led to the great tree that is my love of singing, and it is a tree I hope continues to grow, and even inspire others someday.” Kramer will graduate from Washington Township High School in 2015. He plans to minor in musical arts in college.

Meredith Strom, of Woodbury has been a member of the choir since 2007. A straight-A student at Woodbury High School, Strom was a scholarship winner last year as well. She is very active in her school and her community. Her activities include: swimming, tennis, Ecology Club, Math League, Color Guard (captain) Band (bassoon, treasurer) Wind Ensemble, Girl Scouts, Episcopal Youth Community, Acolyte, 30-hour Famine, Mission trips and Bible school.

“Every new person who joins the choir I try to greet with a smile and get to know them. I know when I joined the choir the thing I liked most about it was that everyone was so nice and welcoming. The leadership role I took on (in GCCC) allowed me to take leadership in other areas of my life,” wrote Strom in her Scholarship essay.

Strom will attend college and said she “would like to play bassoon in the college band and continue to sing in choirs throughout my life.”

Aaron Hall, of Franklinville, has been a member of the GCCC since 2011. Hall attends Delsea Regional High School and is an active member of the Youth Council of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey. He also participates in basketball, mission trips, feeding the homeless, and helping out with the Sandy relief activities on the East Coast. Hall has not determined where he will pursue his college career when he graduates from Delsea High School in 2015 but he plans to continue his musical career with the choir next season!

“Having a great choir Director like Mrs. Richardson has made the process of learning more about music a lot easier and fun,” wrote Hall in his Scholarship essay. “The Gloucester County Children’s Choir has helped me tremendously. If someone was interested in joining a choir, I would definitely recommend this choir.”

Raymond Tyler Karwacki, of Sewell, has been a member of the choir since 2009. Tyler is home-schooled and enjoys a number of sports including soccer and basket ball. He also participates in Gloucester County Summer Theater and the outreach program at Maria Goretti Church, making sandwiches for homeless people in Camden. Tyler will be attending Gloucester County College in the ACT Program.

Of his experience with the Choir, Karwacki said, “Being in the choir taught me that it is fun to perform, especially at Christmastime, and it’s good to get applause after we perform. It taught me that practice makes perfect.”

Kyle Hayes of Woodbury Heights, attends Gateway Regional High School, where he will graduate in 2015. Hayes participates in a number of arts organizations including: Gateway High School marching band, Madrigals and musical theater; Learning Stages Summer Theater; and the All South Jersey Choir. Kyle’s immediate plans after graduation include serving in the military after which he will attend college.

Of his GCCC experience, Hayes said, “GCCC allowed me to meet other kids like myself and helped me to grow into an outgoing young man. GCCC helped transform me.”




MULLICA HILL — Pitman High School senior Kathryn Pepe, and Woodbury High School junior Meredith Strom, each were awarded $500 scholarships by the Gloucester County Children’s Choir Board of Trustees Scholarship Committee. The awards were announced at the Choir’s annual spring concert at the Trinity United Methodist Church in May.

This is the fourth year that the Children’s Choir Scholarship Program has acknowledged the hard work and dedication of choristers who have demonstrated leadership, community involvement, scholarship, and musical talent.


Pepe graduated from Pitman High School where she participated in the fall drama and the spring musicals, marching band and color guard, and the madrigals, chamber, and ensemble choirs. She participates in multiple charitable events, sings to elderly residents of nursing homes, is active in her church, and is a Clean Communities and Gloucester County Social Services Christmas party volunteer.

A member of the choir for the last two years, Pepe has received recognition for her strong soprano, winning first place honors at the prestigious Marian Anderson Music Guild Competition in each of the last two years.


Strom is finishing her junior year at Woodbury High School, where she was recently selected to serve as its representative at Girl’s State, this summer. An honors student, Strom is ranked 8th in her class.  She is involved in band and the wind ensemble, as well as drama club, color guard, tennis, swimming, and art club. She is a member of the YMCA swim team, serves as an acolyte with the Episcopal Grace Church in Haddonfield and has participated in several mission trips.

Founded 20 years ago, the Gloucester County Children’s Choir provides an opportunity for young performers between the age of 10 and 16 to participate to receive choral training with an experienced and dedicated staff and to be exposed to a wide variety of  musical styles.  Information about the choir and about audition requirements can be found at <><>

Funding for the Gloucester County Children’s Choir is made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts from a grant to the Gloucester County Cultural & Heritage Commission at Gloucester County College.


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