Funds Set Up To Carry On West Choral Programs
AURORA — Two endowment funds supporting West Aurora School District choral arts carry names familiar to generations of West students and community members — Meg Papadolias and Sten and Lucille Halfvarson.
Papadolias is retiring this year after more than three decades as a leader of West’s choral program, and the Halfvarsons’ teaching careers began in Aurora 70 years ago.
The A+ Foundation for West Aurora Schools, a foundation formed to benefit the West Aurora schools, announced the creation of the Papadolias Fund last week at the end of Papadolias’ final concert at West High. The Papadolias Fund will provide scholarships, foster innovative programs, and provide funds for music and performance trips.
The Halfvarson fund, created in 2010, focuses on vocal music teachers and choral directors by assisting them with professional development, community initiatives and general program improvements.
Both funds are administered by the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley. Contributions to either can be addressed to A+ Foundation for West Aurora Schools, c/o Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley, 111 W. Downer Place, Suite 312, Aurora, IL 60506; or online at communityfoundationfrv.org.
Papadolias began teaching in the West Aurora district in 1979. At West Aurora High School, she added a number of specialty choirs, was the impetus behind the piano lab, created the opportunity for Music Theory class and AP Music Theory, wrote her own rigorous textbook, and consistently produced music students who have been selected to perform in All-State honors choirs.
Sten Halfvarson taught at West Aurora High School from 1938 until 1979. At West, he developed the choral arts program into one of the most respected in the state, creating the A Cappella Choir. He also was the author and creator of two legendary West High songs, “Roll-On” and the “West High Alma Mater.” In 1960, he formed the Aurora Festival Chorus, which continued to perform major choral works for 15 years.
Lucille Halfvarson taught music and speech at Freeman Elementary School in Aurora from 1941-1944. In subsequent years, she also directed church choirs at Our Savior Lutheran, New England Congregational and Westminster Presbyterian. Later, Halfvarson became an instructor of music and director of choral groups for Waubonsee Community College. She established the Waubonsee District Chorus, which became known for its annual performance of “The Messiah,” held at the Paramount Arts Centre. Under her direction, these concerts became a community tradition, which lasted for 25 years, from 1968-1992.