Songs for Scholars at Spring Street Academy
Concert planned for Barry Kelly Ruth Nichols Hope Scholarship
AMHERST — Through more than 20 years, Barry Kelly and Ruth Nichols touched the lives of countless students and musicians.
The memory of both educators will be carried forward in a new scholarship that will be awarded to an ARHS graduate going on to college or university who has been affected by cancer personally or through a loved one.
To begin the process of raising money a musical evening is being planned by their former co-workers. Songs for Scholars will be held Friday, Nov. 28 from 6 to 10 p.m. at Spring Street Academy.
“Both Barry and Ruth inspired a lot of people in this community through education and music and it’s something we want to do to carry both of their memories forward,” Spring Street Academy principal Aaron Stubbert said. “There’ll be a number of musicians performing that night as well as a popcorn sale and silent auction. There will also be an opportunity for people to make individual contributions to the scholarship fund.”
Admission will be a donation at the door and a promise of a tax receipt will be given out.
Kelly, who was principal at Spring Street Academy, died in 2012 following a lengthy battle with colon cancer, while Nichols died in September following a short fight with pancreatic cancer.
Since Kelly died, the school’s Relay for Life team has been known as BK Believers and it has been one of the leading fundraisers for the annual cancer fundraising event. Phys ed teacher, Daren White, who has battled cancer on two occasions, said staff at the school and friends have been thinking of doing something since Nichols died.
“It’s something we believed we had to do. Both Barry and Ruth meant so much to all of us who worked with them and the children that they taught that there was no question we were going to do something to remember them by,” White said. “Hopefully, we can raise enough money so that this scholarship can be offered for many years so that long after we have all retired and all the students have moved on their memory will live on in this scholarship.”
Committee member Tasha Boss said the concert has already stirred up memories of both Kelly and Nichols.
“It’s already starting conversations. We were talking about Barry and Ruth the other day and some of the memories we had,” Boss said.
Stubbert said the concert is part of the healing process. He said the school will never be able to replace either of them, but it will always remember them.
White said a lot of people who have played with Nichols will be performing, including June MacDonald, Jenn and Dave Siddall, Second Toe, Michelle LeBlanc, Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, Steve Wells, Mike Blakeney, Abbey and Lauren Letcher, Cody Little, Katherine Hatheway and Paul Lohnes and Pius Burke, while there will be some other former and present students performing. He expects Kelly’s wife, Rhonda Kelly, and Nichols’ husband, Jonathan Nichols, will be in attendance and say a few things.
Along with Boss, White and Stubbert, other members of the committee include: Susan Rector, Tasha Boss, Linda Chapman, Trudy O’Neil and Charlene Moore.
Staff at Spring Street Academy are hosting Songs for Scholars on Nov. 28 from 6 to 10 p.m. to support the Barry Kelly Ruth Nichols Hope Scholarship. Members of the organizing committee include: (Front, from left) Tasha Boss, Daren White, (back, from left) Charlene Moore, Linda Chapman and principal Aaron Stubbert.