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LCSD Fine Arts Hall of Fame Inducts Five
Monday, May 7, 2018 -
Five Liverpool Central School District fine arts alumni, mentors and contributors were inducted into the Liverpool Fine Arts Hall of Fame on May 6. The hall of fame is sponsored by VITAL (Vision in the Arts at Liverpool).
Larry Fesko (mentor) was a Liverpool Central School District band teacher from 1971 to 1975. A native of Skaneateles, Fesko received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from Ithaca College in 1967, where his major instrument was the French horn. Upon graduation, he worked as a professional bassist in a touring rock band opening for groups like The Beach Boys and Chicago. Fesko began teaching for Liverpool in 1971 and taught band at Morgan Road Middle, Zogg Middle, Elmcrest Elementary and Wetzel Road Elementary. Fesko passed away due to leukemia in October 1975 shortly after receiving tenure from the district. The annual Fesko Recital was established by the LCSD music faculty the following year as a means to honor the legacy of his service to Liverpool’s students and music program. For more than 40 years, many Liverpool music students have received scholarships for future studies from the donations collected at the Fesko Recital each year. Fesko’s influence in Liverpool will continue on in perpetuity as the Fesko Recital remains an important tradition for the LCSD music program.
After graduating from Liverpool High School in 2004, jazz trombonist Melissa Gardiner (alumnus) earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, and a Master of Music from The Juilliard School, where she earned a full scholarship. She returned to the Syracuse area to teach trombone at Syracuse University, Cornell University and Le Moyne College. Gardiner has shared the stage with several notable artists such as Aretha Franklin, Geri Allen, Wycliffe Gordon, Gerald Wilson, Patti Austin, The Arturo O’Farrill Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra and Vulfpeck. She is the bandleader for the internationally recognized jazz trio MG3 as well as the SAMMY award winning Second Line Syracuse Brass Band. Embodying the concept of artist as citizen, Gardiner has implemented a long running weekly jazz jam and several other community outreach programs in the Syracuse area.
Michelle M. Mix (alumnus) is a member of the LHS Class of 2000. In high school, she participated in performing arts classes, as well as stage crew for the yearly musical theater productions. After graduation, Mix earned her associate’s degree from Onondaga Community College and her bachelor’s degree from Ithaca College, both in video production. While at Ithaca, she participated in the Los Angeles Program where she interned at The Wayne Brady Show. After graduating with honors from Ithaca, Mix headed back to LA to pursue her entertainment career. She has worked on dozens of productions including films, music videos, commercials, The Grammy Awards, The Oscars Red Carpet, America’s Got Talent and Dancing with The Stars. She currently works for Emmy award-winner Derek Hough.
After graduating from LHS, Ken Nichols (contributor) graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. He has been a commercial artist, graphic designer and illustrator for more than 40 years. For the last 10 years he has concentrated on painting, pottery and textile design along with his commercial work. He also has focused on raising scholarship money for deserving high school and college art students to give the arts their proper recognition and importance in today's society. He also emphasizes that art is for everyone regardless of their abilities and can be enjoyed for a lifetime.
Nancy Schamu-Wildoner’s (alumnus) music career began at age five with piano lessons from her grandmother. She sang and played clarinet during the LHS “golden years” of music ensembles taught by fellow hall of fame members Donald Lohr, John Ionatta, and Daniel D’Agostino. Schamu-Wildoner earned her Bachelor of Music at Fredonia State, and her Master of Music in Organ Performance at Binghamton University. She followed that with 31 years of teaching general music, choirs and band as well as serving as fine arts department chair in Chenango Forks Central School District. She is the organist and choir director at First Congregational Church in Binghamton. Her biography is listed in Marquis Who’s Who Publications. She is a member of The Broome County Music Educators Association, The Binghamton and American Theatre Organ Societies, The American Guild of Organists, and the Southern Tier Concert Band. She enjoys performing on theatre organs in Binghamton and the Wurlitzer at the Empire State Theatre and Musical Instrument Museum during the New York State Fair.