A message from Vivi Veras Demas, Class of 1970:
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