Victor Central Schools is proud to announce its new Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) Hall of Fame. The program was created to celebrate and honor the accomplishments of outstanding alumni, staff and community members who have excelled in the arts. It was also established to inspire current students to make contributions to the arts by reconnecting those selected for the hall of fame with our students, staff and community.
Candidates for the Visual and Performing Arts Hall of Fame can be nominated in one of four categories:
Individuals who have made a significant impact on Victor Central Schools’ Arts programming, administration, and/or on regional, state, national, professional, or international levels. This honorary category may include, but is not limited to, VCS staff and local community supporters.
Former music teacher Elizabeth “Betty” Kocher (1956 – 1980) was instrumental in bringing the Suzuki method to VCS, a program that has taught thousands of young musicians how to play the violin through the years. After attending the National Suzuki Conference in the summer of 1966, Kocher was so inspired she worked with the Board of Education to start a program at VCS in the fall of 1966. She also arranged to have founder, Dr. Shinichi Suzuki visit Victor four times! Prior to VCS Kocher earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Eastman School of Music, taught music for two years at Georgian Court College in New Jersey and Misericordia College in Pennsylvania before coming back to Victor where she taught for more than twenty years. Nominator and current Junior High School strings teacher, Elizabeth Knapp said that the District’s music program, specifically its orchestra program would not be what it is today without the inspiration and everlasting hard work of Betty Kocher.
Artist David Cowles graduated from Victor Senior High School in1979. After attending graphic arts school he landed a job with the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester as a visual artist. Two years after joining the D&C, he began his freelance illustration career and in 1991 he left the newspaper completely to launch his freelance career full-time. Cowles’ work has appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Vibe, Time, Newsweek, People, The Village Voice, Money, Worth, Fortune, Fast Company, Los Angeles Magazine, New York Magazine, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune and the New York Times to name just a few. He also produced a pilot for Playhouse Disney, several award-winning videos for They Might be Giants as well as videos for Sesame Workshop, The Rochester Philharmonic, the Democrat and Chronicle and the award winning spot H2O Hero. Senior High School art teacher and nominator David Denner said the art department unanimously agreed that David would be an excellent selection for the Hall of Fame’s first inductee.
During his high school years, Alan Hood was the top trumpet player at Victor Central Schools. Upon graduating in 1982, Hood transferred his love for the trumpet into collegiate music studies earning him a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky, a master’s degree from Northern Illinois University and a doctorate degree from the University of Miami. In addition to an illustrious teaching career that took him from the University of Texas and the University of Virginia to the University of Denver’s Lamont School, Hood has performed music for more than 35 years. Among his most notable gigs Hood toured the world with Phil Collins, appeared with the orchestras of Woody Herman, Glenn Miller and Harry James and performed on stage with Ray Charles, Doc Severinsen, and Natalie Cole to name a few. In 2013 he was named a VCS Graduate of Distinction for his incredible music accomplishments. Senior High band teacher Eric Everhart said that it was during these festivities that Alan willingly gave of his time and talents to teach a master class to music students in the new JH/SH Arts Center.
Former Senior High English teacher Beth Thomas (1983-2014) was an integral part of the Senior High School theater arts community for more than two decades serving as the theater arts coordinator, International Baccalaureate (IB) theater teacher and the Senior High drama director. Under her leadership Thomas directed numerous plays and musicals that engaged literally thousands of young artists both on and off stage. She also helped with the monumental job of transitioning the entire high school theater arts program into the new JH/SH Arts Center. Senior High School English teacher and nominator Jeremy Hawkinson said that Thomas was instrumental in inspiring theatre at VSH not only through her work with students but by fostering new faculty into their roles as teachers
David Grant Wright caught the acting bug his junior year of college when he was cast as Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. After graduating with an MFA in Acting from Michigan State University, Wright’s acting career took flight. He has been a professional actor for more than 30 years, appearing in 27 films, 43 plays, 150 television shows and over 100 commercials. Most recently, he appeared in the films, Outlaw Project, 50 to1, Taken Away, Masterless, Skin in the Game, and End of Sentence and television shows, Scorpion, Angie Tribeca, Better Call Saul, Fear the Walking Dead, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Scandal, Flaked, The Last Tycoon, NCIS (LA), Here and Now and Lucifer. for full article go to the Alumni Newsletter
Bill Kelliher, ’89, is best known as the rhythm guitarist for the Grammy award winning heavy metal band, Mastodon. Kelliher was unable to accept his award this year but has three years to come back to VCS to do so. Stay tuned!
After being a star trumpet player for VCS and the Rochester Patriots Drum and Bugle Corps, Wheeler was a member of the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, “The Commandant’s Own.” He performed for countless foreign and national dignitaries and Heads-of-State, and was a soloist at the Nippon Music Festival in Japan. Stateside, he performed the national anthem at numerous NFL games, the inaugural game of Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and the return of the Cleveland Browns. He has honored more than 100 fallen Marine veterans by performing “Taps” at Arlington National Cemetery and other cemeteries. Wheeler continues to play trumpet as a civilian, primarily playing lead trumpet in a jazz group in the D.C. area. for full article go to the Alumni Newsletter
In addition to being part of numerous music enembles at VCS, Andy Martinek was also a member of the Eastman Youth Jazz ensemble and The Patriot Drum Corps. He studied music education at Temple University and obtained a Masters of Music in Jazz Performance and Improvisational Composition from SUNY Purchase. He was a jazz student ambassador at the Amsterdam Von Conservator and spent five months as lead percussionist for Princess Cruise Lines. Martinek has played drums with legendary rocker Peter Frampton, performed at the Harvard and Yale Clubs, Lincoln Center, and NFL fundraisers. Today he is a studio drummer in NYC playing with band members from Sting, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Mother Feather, Snarky Puppy and Macklamore, to name a few. for full article go to the Alumni Newsletter
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