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Getting students to take note

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Ian Gronau | March 16, 2014

WILLIAMS BAY -- In the past four years, Williams Bay High School's choir program went from an enrollment of seven students to 41, and the junior high program went from 32 to 48. As it currently stands, 40 percent of the student body is now enrolled in choir.

What could have initiated this rush? The answer: High school choir director Elaine Sellenheim. Sellenheim, who by no coincidence was hired four years ago, has made reinvigorating and amping up the school's choir program her personal crusade.

Though it's only been a short time, Sellenheim's beyond-the-call-of-duty performance hasn't gone unnoticed. Last fall, Principal William White went out of his way to nominate Sellenheim for the 2014 Wisconsin Choral Director Association's Outstanding Young Choral Director Award. After the organization's review, it was decided to grant Sellenheim the honor. 

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“I found out that I won the award in November,” Sellenheim said. “It's really exciting. I especially appreciate getting an award from this organization because these are my peers who are out there doing the same thing as me, so they know what I am doing on a daily basis. It's very special.”

Sellenheim received the award in January at the annual WCDA convention in Milwaukee. The award honors teachers with 10 or fewer years of experience. The candidate must be a current WCDA member who exhibits characteristics associated with master teachers, including enthusiasm, energy, musicianship, student rapport and professionalism; who has made a considerable impact on the size, quality of performance, festival involvement and program visibility; and/or who has also made a commitment to the community through church or civic choral organizations, youth activities, or civic service organizations. According to WCDA President Matthew Wanner, Sellenheim has all these qualities in spades.

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