Award announcement surprises Holy Redeemer student
Cara Callahan recipient of NUFSICISUM Youth Leadership Award
Holy Redeemer Elementary Grade 9 student Cara Callahan won’t soon forget the band practice that took place last Monday.
Callahan, 14, was the only person in a room of around 40 people who had no idea she was a winner of this year’s NUFSICISUM Youth Leadership Award.
The NUFSICISUM award — “music is fun” spelled backwards — is presented every year on Music Monday, the first Monday of May. Music Monday is organized through the Coalition for Music Education as a celebration of the importance of music in schools. There is live streaming throughout the day of performances from across Canada.
The award includes a plaque and a cheque that will be presented at a later date at an assembly in Holy Redeemer, recognizing the winner as a Youth4Music Ambassador.
“This year our school chose to submit a video recording of the entire K-9 population singing “Who Would I Be” written and taught to the students by Cara,” explained Brenda Hunt, Callahan’s music teacher at the Spaniard’s Bay school, and the person who nominated her for the award.
“It’s amazing to see all those people singing my song – not because (my teacher) is making them, but because they actually want to.” Cara Callahan
As far as Callahan knew, May 1st was going to be a normal, every day band practice.
Callahan was led to believe that Hunt was going to be streaming a video that showcased Callahan’s first original song titled “Who Would I Be”, which would explain the presence of her family, teachers and guitar teacher Terry Lynch.
However, as Hunt was explaining to the crowd what the video entailed, things took a turn that Callahan wasn’t expecting.
Hunt went on to explain that she had nominated Callahan for the award, and that the announcement was recently made that Callahan was one of six Canadian students to receive the award.
“I was aware she made a nomination,” said Callahan after the announcement, “but I didn’t know what it was for, or that any of this was going on today. I’m over the moon excited right now.
“Growing up here in Holy Redeemer since kindergarten, it’s amazing to have something like this happen in front of so many people that have made such a difference in my life.”
Callahan told The Compass she’s been singing and playing guitar since the age of 11, and has been heavily involved in the music scene at her school for the past two years, often being called upon to help out with assemblies, as well as being relied upon for the upkeep of the school’s guitars – an instrument Callahan says she is very passionate about.
Callahan’s song is the first she’s ever written herself, and was dedicated to Holy Redeemer’s current kindergarten teacher, Stephanie Menchions, who was Callahan’s Grade 6 teacher.
Callahan said it was Menchions who initially encouraged her to express her musical talents, and that she had no reason to be shy.
“That’s something I’ve only ever dreamed of happening,” said Callahan, still a little emotional from the announcement. “It’s amazing to see all those people singing my song – not because (my teacher) is making them, but because they actually want to.”
Cara Callahan, 14, receives the news that she is one of six winners of the NUFSICISUM Youth Leadership Award.