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N.C. choir making cultural exchange trip to Beaver River

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BEAVER FALLS — A high school choir from North Carolina will spend a few days here this week on a cultural exchange trip.

“It’s quite a thing for a Southern culture to come to Lewis County,” said Leueen Smithling, superintendent of the Beaver River Central School District.

The Patriots Singers Choir from Independence High School in Charlotte, N.C., directed by past Beaver River teacher Kristine Mallette Neale, is scheduled to perform at Beaver River during three student assemblies Thursday and Friday and at a dedication ceremony Saturday for the school’s auditorium. The auditorium has been refurbished as part of the district’s recent $2 million capital project.

The group will consist of 22 students and three teachers, including Mrs. Neale, who often sings with the Frank Sacci Band when she returns to the north country during summer breaks, according to a district release.

“She has traveled all over the East Coast with them,” Mrs. Smithling said.

The student assemblies will be held at the following times: second period from 9:13 to 9:55 a.m. Thursday for high school students; second period from 9:13 to 9:55 a.m. Friday for middle school students, and ninth period from 2:30 to 3:12 p.m. Friday for other students. The public is invited to all three events, but community members are asked to sit in the balcony unless handicapped seating is required.

In addition to performing, the racially and ethnically diverse North Carolina group members will speak about what life is like at their school and answer questions from Beaver River students, Mrs. Smithling said.

The dedication ceremony is slated for 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The event is free, but those interested in attending may pick up advance tickets at the district office to ensure seats are available.

Along with participating in the programs, the North Carolina students are scheduled to attend a welcome barbecue for them and their host families on Thursday, sit in on classes at Beaver River and tour various sites in Lewis County.

The trip is being funded by a $6,000 grant from the Pratt-Northam Foundation, Lowville, and $4,000 from another private foundation, which requested that its donation remain anonymous, Mrs. Smithling said.

“Next year, it is the intention that our kids go down there,” she said.

Independence High School officials will be asked to procure funding to cover costs for that trip, Mrs. Smithling said.

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