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Appalachian Children's Chorus launching West Side, homeschool choirs

The Appalachian Children’s Chorus is expanding its service and instruction by initiating a pair of new youth choirs this fall.

This week, the organization will introduce the ACC Academy at Mary C. Snow West Side Elementary School and a homeschool choir.

Each choir will meet and practice over an eight-week period. They will participate in the ACC’s annual Christmas concert on Dec. 8.

The choirs will begin rehearsing on Thursday, Oct. 3. The homeschool choir, for students in grades three through eight, will meet for rehearsals from 12:30 to 2 p.m. each week at Oakwood Baptist Church, Oakwood Road in Charleston.

“ACC aims to reach as many children in West Virginia as possible with its life-changing program,” said ACC founder and Artistic Director Selina Midkiff. “We have partnered with Mary C. Snow West Side Elementary School to start a choir in their school as part of their after-school program.

“We have also reached out to the local homeschool community to offer an option for their children’s music education,” Midkiff added. “We are thrilled about the possibilities these new choirs bring as we expand our horizons.”

A grant from the Jeanne G. Hamilton and Lawson W. Hamilton Jr. Family Foundation Inc. is covering the costs of the ACC Academy this year and next.

“The ACC is grateful for their support of this new initiative. The Homeschool Choir participants pay a nominal fee of $50 for 12 hours of music education. As is true with all of ACC’s programs, financial aid is available for those who qualify,” Midkiff said.

Both programs will be offered in the spring for another eight weeks.

“The ACC accepts choir members from kindergarten through 12th grades,” ACC Marketing and Development Director Audrey Pitonak-Goff said. “There are three choir segments, for younger children, older youths and a concert choir, which is the one that travels across the nation and internationally as opportunities arise.”

ACC students hail from Kanawha, Putnam, Lincoln, Logan, Fayette and surrounding counties in the region, she said. This year, 75 youths are participating, with 32 of them singing in the ACC concert choir.

The group has faced financial challenges in recent years, after a former chorus executive director, Jacqueline Holly Portillo, was sentenced to prison in July 2018 for embezzling $100,000 from the choir over a seven-year period.

“We called the past year our Year of Rebuilding,” Pitonak-Goff said, “and this year is our Year of New Horizons, exploring new horizons with the ACC Academy, for example.

“We’re exploring new avenues and are pretty excited about the ACC Academy. If that works well, we’d like to expand it to other Title I schools in the area. If the homeschool choir does well, we’ll continue that as well.”

To raise funds for the organization, a one club golf scramble will get underway at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5, at Cato Park on Charleston’s West Side.

Teams of four can compete for prizes, including a $10,000 hole-in-one prize. Each team member must choose one club to be used in the game. Only four clubs may be played by each team. All four members may use any one of the four clubs throughout the scramble with the best shot being taken until the completion of the hole.

To register a team for $50 per player or receive more information or receive further information about the youth choirs and other ACC events and programs, call Audrey Pitonak-Goff at 304-343-1111 or email

The ACC will host another fundraiser next month. A prize bingo event is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, at the Columbia Gas Auditorium on MacCorkle Avenue in Charleston. Lego sets, American Girl dolls, purses and power tools are among the prizes that will be awarded at the program sponsored by BB&T and Gray, Griffith & Mays.

The cost per ticket is $20 in advance and $25 at the door. To purchase tickets, call 304-343-1111, email or visit

Pitonak-Goff said a fundraiser next year is designed to be the organization’s largest of the year.

“It’s brand new, a Valentine’s Day dinner and dance at the Embassy Suites in Charleston,” she said. “We’re hopeful to have tickets for that online within the next month or so.”

Metro reporter Clint Thomas can be reached at or by calling 304-348-1232.

Funerals for Sunday, October 20, 2019

Fink, Janice - 1:30 p.m., United Disciples of Christ Church, South Charleston.

Honaker, Dewey - 2 p.m., Arnett Assembly of God Church, Arnett.

Jenkins, Tina - 2 p.m., Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.

Payne, Joseph - 3 p.m., Gateway Christian Church, St. Albans.

Snyder, Janice - 4 p.m., Snodgrass Funeral Home, South Charleston.

Vance, Kendall - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.