A message from Vivi Veras Demas, Class of 1970:

Dear Friends:

It is the occasion of my 50-plus 2-year reunion from Shaker that has revitalized the desire in me and my classmates of the Class of 1970 to see our beloved Choir Director, Mr. Reynold Ellis, properly honored and never forgotten. 

Our Class of 1970 celebration was delayed by two years as a result of an unforeseen event of our lifetime: a pandemic. Many of us during this time of challenge found solace and hope in the music and lessons of life we learned from Mr. Ellis and are inspired to renew our support for Shaker’s choir program in his memory. 

Mr. Ellis began his illustrious career at Shaker in 1946, retired in 1973, and died at the age of 76 in 1989. Mr. Ellis brought us the classical repertoire as well as an introduction to newer compositions such as Bernstein’s ‘Chichester Psalms’ written in 1965 and performed by his A Capella Choir only a few years later. He was at the helm of each High School musical, performed every other year, and is indelibly etched in our memories even 50 years later. He also spearheaded popular student performances at A Night for the Red and White, giving students an opportunity to show off their talents outside of the classical sphere. 

Here is a small example of some of the comments we have received from founding donors to the Fund and their recollections of Mr. Ellis:

I was in the Concert Choir with Mr. Ellis. I still remember everything he taught us about singing
and keep finding myself quoting him when I watch some modern singer ~a 1970 graduate

Ren really brought out the best in everybody and made work seem like fun. I’m glad you made
me think about him for the first time in many years. ~ a 1956 graduate


It’s rare that I’m happy to receive a solicitation for a financial contribution. When I opened your
request to honor Reynold Ellis, however, I felt a rush of gratitude. That check is already in
the mail. ~a 1966 graduate

A Cappella was the most meaningful part of my Shaker experience…music has defined my life,
and I still teach piano…I appreciate the role Mr. Ellis played in developing and refining
my musicianship. ~a 1969 graduate

Reynold Ellis led with dignity and was the hallmark of what a teacher should be to students. It is in that spirit that we created the Reynold Ellis Raise Our Voice Fund.

As of June 30, 2021, the Foundation has received $15,850.00 in donations to the Ellis Fund since it was established. Over the years, those contributions have supported various teaching resources for the choirs as well as travel assistance for international choir trips. In recent years, funds were used to purchase new costumes for the Chanticleers.

We need your support to re-invigorate The Reynold Ellis Raise Our Voice Fund and help the next generation of choir students. Shaker’s new choir director, Nick LaPete, is working with the Shaker Schools Foundation on a list of other needs and projects that could enhance the program and inspire a new generation of students to engage in choral music. Additionally, a plaque will be made, with Mr. Ellis’ photograph, to be displayed in the hallway leading to the Choir room so past, present and future music students can relate to the legacy of our incomparable teacher. 

I invite you to join in contributing to The Reynold Ellis Raise Our Voice Fund in tribute to this stellar Shaker Heights high school teacher and the positive influence he has had on so many Shaker students.

I hope you continue to raise your voices in song and recall Mr. Ellis and his influence on our love of music.

Vivi Veras Demas

Class of 1970

A Warm Welcome to Our New Choir Directors
Entering the 2022-2023 school year, the Shaker Heights Choirs continue to build upon the excellence and artistry that lie at the heart of the tradition of our community, while furthering the District’s mission of equity and inclusion in new and exciting ways. Recently under a new direction, Mrs. Suzanna Adkins and Mr. Nick LaPete are excited to reinvigorate the singers of Shaker as we emerge from the recent setbacks of the pandemic. In 2022 Mrs. Adkins lead Shaker Heights Middle School’s singers to a SUPERIOR rating at the Music in the Parks Festival, a wonderful musical production of Dear Edwina Jr. and a number of successful performances of the 7th grade and 8th grade Choirs on the SHMS stage. As a new member of the Shaker family last year, Mr. LaPete directs SHHS’s five choral groups – the Tenor Bass, Soprano Alto, and A Cappella Mixed Choirs, as well as The Chanticleers and Vocal Ensemble, who were featured at the Shaker Schools Foundation’s Red & White annual gala. Alongside Ms. Donna Bartlett Jelen, the Shaker Choir and Orchestra brought their musicality and joy across the Atlantic, giving two tremendous concerts in Spain on a tour of cities including Toledo, Granada, Sevilla, and Madrid, opening the eyes and making lifelong memories for Shaker students.
The Shaker Choirs are excited to revive old and start new traditions in the 2022-2023 school year, starting with our first performance: The Shaker Harvest All-Sing! On October 26th, the middle school and high school choirs will combine in performance, to fill the SHHS Large Auditorium with song while raising funds for both the Shaker Schools Foundation and a charity of the students’ choosing. Mr. LaPete and Mrs. Adkins hope that this will show our students that their voice can be a powerful force, not just for music, but for change and philanthropy in our world. Then, December 15th marks the return of the SHHS Alumni Choir Concert – HALLELUJAH! On pause due to the pandemic in 2021, it will be a joyful return of welcoming former Shaker singers back on stage to show current students that they contribute to a rich legacy of singing in the Shaker Heights community! We hope that you’ll join us for these exciting events!