Carter High forms Alumni Choir; plans scholarship

Sandra ClarkEast Knox

A funny thing happens after high school. Many people flee to create a new life, leaving behind the stereotypes and insecurities of youth. Then, 50 years later, they have retired, parents and spouses have died, and they look back on those classmates from high school. “People we hardly knew become close friends and start to feel like family.”

That’s how Marilyn Lusk Ault explains the comradery that’s developed among people who sang in the Carter High School choir under director William “Sonny” Melton.

Melton arrived at Carter High at age 23, just five years older than his students, Ault points out. He stayed at Carter for 30 years (1962-93). He made a tremendous impact on the school and community, and now his former students want to acknowledge that.

The newly formed Carter High School Alumni Choir has created an endowed scholarship to honor Dr. Melton. The $1,000 scholarship will be administered initially by the school’s choral boosters and ultimately by the East Tennessee Foundation, Ault said.

She explains: We need to raise $28,000, with $3,000 used for the scholarship during the first three years until the $25,000 endowment matures. “Please make checks payable to Carter High School Choral Boosters, c/o Shelby Berkley, director, 210 N Carter School Road, Strawberry Plains, TN 37871. Put on memo line Dr. William Melton Scholarship Fund.”

It only takes 280 former students giving $100, she said, not that we would turn down more. Somebody might want to give $1,000 or $10,000. “After teaching thousands of students, it should not take long to achieve this goal.”

Assistant principal Karyn Lee is the point person at the school, working with the alumni choir, Dr. Melton and choral director Berkley. “We are so excited to bring back Carter High choral traditions and rebuild our choral department,” she said.

Ault said the first check came from “a gal from Lyons Creek Baptist Church who graduated in 1965 and now lives in Ohio.” She attached a note to explain that Dr. Melton had written a letter to her mother telling her how much he appreciated the student’s hard work in his class. “She has kept that letter all these years – 60 years. He had great rapport with students.”

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today Inc.


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