The 2017 Performing Arts Center Honor Ceremony celebrated (from left) Wyatt Roberds, Margaret Holland-Pennell and Don Stratton for their contributions and dedication to the arts.
Thanks to the contributions of three individuals, the arts are alive and well in Granite City.
Granite City High School Band Director Wyatt Roberds, Holy Family Catholic School Principal Margaret Holland-Pennell and Grigsby Middle School Principal Don Stratton were honored at the 2017 Performing Arts Center Honors Ceremony on Saturday, April 1, for their lifelong dedication of working to sustain, perpetuate, preserve and advocate for the fine and performing arts within school curricula and throughout the community.
The Granite City High School Theater Department sponsored the event.
“Our community has always celebrated the successes and achievements of our sports heroes, but very little has been done throughout both the school community and the Granite City community to recognize those individuals making a significant impact in the arts,” Granite City High School Fine Arts Chair John Manoogian said. “As we continue to celebrate these individuals at our Performing Arts Center Honors Ceremony, our goal is to further the importance of the arts into both our schools and the Granite City community.”
Established in 2014, the ceremony is an evening that celebrates pure joy. Roberds was recognized for his achievements in music and for leading the high school’s Marching Warriors to success, Holland-Pennell for her work in choreography, and Stratton for his contributions to the performing arts, including his role as Ebenezer Scrooge for the past 10 years in Granite City High School’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol.”
Each honoree had no idea what the evening held for them beforehand. According to Manoogian, the Theater Department worked diligently to plan an evening filled with surprise guest speakers providing testimonials and tributes, video montages and performing artists who showcased stage tributes.
Granite City School District Superintendent Jim Greenwald was one of the speakers.
“They are outstanding people in the community and in the fine arts,” he said. “I can’t say enough good things about them. Mr. Stratton is an icon in all the plays, principal of Grigsby Middle School; we’re very pleased with everything Wyatt Roberds has done with the band program and Mrs. Pennell has done outstanding work, not only at Holy Family, but in the community. I’m very proud to be here as a presenter and very proud to be associated with all three of them.”
Other speakers included Granite City Mayor Ed Hagnauer, School Board President and 2014 honoree Beverly Scroggins and high school Principal Daren DePew.
Stage tributes included a performance by the band’s wind ensemble, conducted by Roberds; a performance by School Board member Matt Jones called “Scrooge Through the Years” and a skit honoring Holland-Pennell, performed by her daughters, Amy Holland-Pennell and Melissa Kimble, and granddaughter, London Kimble.
By the end of the night, all three honorees felt like they had won an Oscar.
“I feel absolutely incredible,” Holland-Pennell said.
Roberds and Stratton agree.
“It’s overwhelming,” Roberds said. “All the testimonials, performances. It was a great night.”
“All the things people had to say, I’m not sure if they’re all true, but I sure hope so,” Stratton said. “I hope I live up to all the things they said.”