Press release Jan. 17, 2011

Exhibit “Give Praise”

Fire Hall Gallery and Charles Town Visitors Center

February 5-28, 2011


George Rutherford, Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society 304-725-9610

Jim Kenyatta, exhibit curator 304-725-2516

Pam Parziale, Arts & Humanities Alliance of Jefferson County 304-725-4251

The photographic exhibit “Give Praise” opens with a reception February 5, 2 to 4 PM at the Fire Hall Gallery and Charles Town Visitors Center. The life and times of the tri-county African American community are presented in eighteen black and white photographs taken in 1993 by artist in residence Ann Zelle. Excerpts from interviews with the individuals accompany the photo exhibit. Color landscape photographs of Jefferson County taken during that time period by Zelle will also be on exhibit.

Exhibit curator Jimica Kenyatta said, “The exhibit is a way to honor individuals who have been important figures in the Black community. The three counties of the Eastern Panhandle are represented in the exhibit.” Included in the exhibit are photographs of Charles Branson, Shepherdstown, Jefferson County; Oscar Jones, Martinsburg, Berkeley County; and John Dick Powell, PawPaw, Morgan County.

“Give Praise” is a project of the Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society in cooperation with the Arts & Humanities Alliance of Jefferson County, AHA!

Artist and photographer Zelle worked with the Carter G. Woodson Historical Association in 1993. Traveling across the three counties of the eastern panhandle, she met with individuals who ranged in age from 60 to 90. Some had lived in West Virginia their entire lives, and others were recent émigrés. The subjects were asked about their childhood experiences, where they were born and raised, their families, employment and education. They contributed memories of life in their community as a whole.

The original project was funded in part by AHA!, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, The West Virginia Commission on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. “More than a year was spent in interviews, talking with the county residents and getting to know them,” said Zelle. “ It gave me an opportunity to get to know them,” she said in explaining her method of understanding her subjects before capturing them on film.

Now retired from her professorship at American University, Washington DC, Zelle resides in Brevard NC.

The public is invited to attend an opening reception 2 to 4 PM, February 5 at the gallery location, 108 N. George Street, Charles Town. The exhibit continues through Feb. 28.


  Press Release - Community Grant News for release Jan. 15, 2011.

For more information, contact Ron Widmyer at 304-725-4326.

The Arts and Humanities Alliance of Jefferson County, W.V., requests proposals from groups and individuals in Jefferson County for grants to fund projects in the arts or humanities that are intended to preserve or enhance the county’s cultural heritage.  Proposals must be mailed and postmarked by Feb. 15.  Applications and guidelines for submissions can be found on the AHA website at 

Applicants are urged to contact AHA Community Grants Committee chairman Ron Widmyer at 304-725-4326 prior to submission of a grant application for further guidance.

After applications are reviewed by a panel, the awards are made by the AHA Board of Directors.

Applicants must be residents of or operate from facilities within Jefferson County and meet all other criteria of the guidelines. Projects must demonstrate positive community impact and practicality for completion. 

AHA’s Community Grants have upper financing limits of $2,000 for organizations and $800 for individuals.  Projects may be funded at lower levels. 

AHA requests proposals for Community Grants three times a year.  The next deadline for proposals after Feb. 15 is May 15.  Applicants may request more then one grant award per year, but first priority will be given to organizations and individuals seeking their first award in any one year.

The mission of AHA, a volunteer, non-profit organization, is to preserve the rich history and culture of Jefferson County and to encourage creative opportunity for all its citizens.


Press Release

Arts & Humanities Alliance of Jefferson County (

December 14, 2010

Arts & Humanities Alliance of Jefferson County awards

$12,000 in arts education mini-grants to

Jefferson County School Teachers

Shepherdstown, WV: The Arts & Humanities Alliance of Jefferson County  awarded 27 mini-grants to Jefferson County public school teachers of the arts on Monday. These mini-grants, totaling $12,000, will be used for art, music, and drama projects in the classroom, from elementary age up through high school. The Arts & Humanities Alliance is a non-profit  501 C3 organization with a mission to promote the arts and humanities of Jefferson County. AHA is funded in part by the West Virginia Commission on the Arts, the Jefferson County Commission, private donations and membership dues.

Paul Pritchard, president of AHA, noted that AHA has contributed over $70,000 since the inception of the Teaching Arts Creatively (TAC) program to the public schools in Jefferson County for arts and humanities enrichment. “We are proud of this contribution back to our community and targeted for our children.”

The grant proposals were reviewed by a panel of professionals in the community, consisting of Sherry Sykes, chairwoman of AHA’s Teaching Arts Creatively program, AHA board member and pottery artist,  Pam Parziale, Charles Town attorney, Tanya Godfrey, historian, Donna Northouse, and AHA Administrator, Nancy McKeithen. This committee was particularly excited by the enthusiasm shown by the teachers for incorporating creative projects into their lesson plans, and inviting visiting artists and musicians into their classroom to work with their students.

The following is a list of the Teaching Arts Creatively project grants funded for 2010-2011:

  • ·       Page Jackson Elementary teacher, Sheryl Fiolek, received $450.00 for an art project: Connecting art and nature by learning about “Impressionism” with her 2nd grade art class. This project will utilize the new community trail, garden and wetlands at Page Jackson.
  • ·       Page-Jackson Elementary teacher, Lindsay Dove, received $230.00   towards the purchase of                                                                           a handheld digital recorder to be used in the music classroom.
  • ·       North Jefferson Elementary teacher, Mary Watts, received $450.00 to fund visiting pottery artist, Joy Bridy, to work with 4th and 5th graders to learn the three styles of hand-building pottery (“slab, coil and pinch”).
  • ·       Driswood Elementary teacher, Angela Holsinger, received $300.00 for the purchase of new percussion instruments for the general music classroom. Instruments will include bongos, hand drums, triangles, woodblocks, and guiro tone blocks.
  • ·       Driswood Elementary teacher, Lisa Patterson, received $500.00 for the purchase of art supplies for three projects: basket making materials for 5th grade, mask making materials for 4th grade and Japanese Carp kite materials for 2nd grade.
  • ·       South Jefferson Elementary teacher, Alvyce Ane Moore, received $300.00 for the purchase of an instrument repair kit for the elementary school band, to cover 4 elementary schools: South Jefferson, North Jefferson, Ransom and C. W. Shipley.
  • ·       Blue Ridge Elementary teacher, Constance Balukoff , received $500.00   for                                          2 art projects for 4th graders: students will create masks to go with the story of the Nutcracker; and students will create totem poles to go along with their study of North West Indians.
  • ·       Blue Ridge Elementary teacher, Cheryl LaVigne, received $300.00 to purchase rhythm instruments for her music program.
  • ·       South Jefferson Elementary teacher, Pamela Shearer, received $300.00 to purchase instruments, including a steel drum kit, for her Folk Songs of the Caribbean performance project, grades 2-5. The final performance will be videotaped.
  • ·       South Jefferson Elementary teacher, Judy Chesley, received $500.00 to fund a framed gallery show at Summit Point Library in April. Students in grades K – 5th will show their artwork in the South Jefferson Public Library Gallery in Summit Point, WV. The title of the show will be “Inspired, Created, Exhibited!”                                                                                                                                                     
  • ·       C.W. Shipley Elementary teacher, Nena Stowell, received $500.00 for art supplies for a 5th grade project making marionettes. Art students will act out character traits with their marionette puppets and work with a professional puppeteer. Their final performance will be videotaped.
  • ·       C. W. Shipley Elementary teacher, Nancy Guiney, received $150.00 to fund students in the Accelerated Reading Program to attend a production at the Majestic Theatre in Gettysburg.
  • ·       Shepherdstown Elementary teacher, Lydia Vickers, received $300.00 for the purchase of music stands for the music program.
  • ·       Shepherdstown Elementary teacher, Amanda Groff, received $250.00 for materials for a fiber arts project. Students will work in small groups using special “felting” needles to “paint with dyed wool.” Finished projects will be displayed in the spring Fine Arts Festival.
  • ·       Shepherdstown Elementary teacher, Susan Amanda Townsend, received $300.00 to purchase alto recorders to begin a recorder ensemble in the 5th grade.
  • ·       Shepherdstown Middle School teacher, Cheryl Crawford, received $500.00 to present a Broadway Junior production of “Annie” by the Middle School Choir.
  • ·       Shepherdstown Middle School teacher, Chad Conant, received $865.00 for a series of Jazz clinics with Mr. John Lynch, Sr., Mr. Pat Lowrey, and Mr. Jesse Shultzaberger and the Shepherdstown Middle School Jazz Band. The grant will also bring guest instructor, Dr. Mark McCoy, to Shepherdstown Middle School to work with their three concert bands.
  • ·       Wildwood Middle School teachers, as part of the “Go Global” team, received $1,000.00 to bring Wrhatnala USA to Wildwood for a student assembly and performance, in coordination with the curator for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, DC.
  • ·       Wildwood Middle School teacher, Susan Carney, received $500.00 for materials for 7th and 8th graders to make ceramic tiles to create a tile mural mimicking Islamic designs they have studied.  Each row of the mural will focus on different parts of the world.
  • ·       Charles Town Middle School teacher, Rachel Barb, received $500.00 to fund guest conductor, Lee Stevens, to work with the 7th grade band in a series of band clinics this coming spring.                                                                                                             
  • ·       Harpers Ferry Middle School teacher, Connie Robeson, received $200.00 for a school assembly and evening performance by the 6th Dimension Handbell Ensemble from Winchester, VA.
  • ·       Harpers Ferry Middle School teacher, Charles Wall, received $500.00 for guest artist, John Lynch, Sr., to rehearse with the Middle School Band in a series of band clinics this spring.
  • ·       Washington High School teacher, Laura Miller, received $500.00 for her Art 3/AP and Crafts/Drawing courses to create Art Trading Cards. This concept of art as a visual, social and cultural exchange will also incorporate digital and video of the students’ art trading cards.
  • ·       Washington High School teacher, Laura Burkholder, received $250.00 for art supplies for a gesture drawing project.
  • ·       Jefferson High School teacher, Steve Glendenning received $1,000.00 to fund visiting drama teacher, Adrienne Sowers, to work with Jefferson High’s acting students to create, write and perform an original theatrical piece based on staging theatre that emulates the blind experience. Ms. Sowers is an adjunct faculty member at Shepherd University and former student of Jefferson High.
  • ·       Jefferson High School teacher, J.P. Lynch, Jr. received $525.00 for the Eastern WV Regional Jazz Festival held at Shepherd University in March 2011. This festival involves both Jefferson and Berkeley County middle and high school jazz ensembles.
  • ·       Jefferson High School teacher, J.P. Lynch, Jr., also received $330.00        to fund two guest artists, Jerry Walker and Jason Gano, to rehearse with the jazz band in a series of jazz clinics this spring.

To find out about other AHA! supported programs and events and to become a member, visit . Individuals can get involved by contacting AHA Administrator, Nancy McKeithen, at AHA, P.O. Box 2051, Shepherdstown, WV 25443.