UPDATE: Due to weather conditions, Ms. Bonner’s retirement celebration has been rescheduled to Tuesday, May 14, at 6:00pm.
If there’s a cornerstone to Kinder HSPVA’s vocal program, it’s very likely Pat Bonner. Famous at the school for being the only teacher who’s taught on all three of its campuses, her energy and passionate commitment to the arts has spanned her more than 50-year teaching career.
This spring, she is leaving the sheet music behind.
“I can finally retire now,” she jokes. “I’ve been waiting for this new building.”
With the opening of the new Kinder HSPVA campus in January, Bonner knew it was time to retire. But it wasn’t enough for her to bid farewell and close the door forever. She wanted to ensure in her leaving that she left something tangible behind.
That’s why she wanted the annual HSPVA Pop Concert to serve as a fundraiser that would honor her time in the classroom. Proceeds raised from the event will be used for something dear to Bonner’s heart: sending sophomore and junior students from Kinder HSPVA to summer camps and other enrichment experiences, some at colleges and universities across the country.
“When they go to these experiences, they not only strengthen their music skills,” she says. “They come back here and they enrich their ensembles, they encourage their fellow students, they become leaders.”
Bonner says that supporting students’ enrichment in this way is vital to helping them develop their musicianship.
“They’re out there with others who have their same passion,” she explains. “And experiences like this give them a head start in seeing what it’s like to pursue music at the university level.”
Bonner knows that some Kinder HSPVA students might not be able to afford such activities. But the lessons those camps and experiences provide could be the difference between a college scholarship or not. It’s not only a fun opportunity for students, it’s one that treats them as developing artists and allows them to stretch themselves.
That’s something Bonner has tried to do across her many decades of teaching. Her favorite moments in the classroom, she says, are “being able to watch when the light comes on. I love to see their progress, from almost babies when they first come to us to becoming these truly fine artists.”
While she says she is always glad to hear from students and alumni the difference she’s made in their lives, it wasn’t her primary motivation to teach. Bonner believes that music enhances the soul and that the arts make us better people. Her teaching has allowed her to share that ethos with her students, and she is proud to have exposed generations of students to the beauty of the arts.
As far as her plans for her upcoming retirement, she has no specifics.
“I’m going to do anything I want,” she quips, admitting some of those anythings will be volunteering and travel.
She hopes, however, that as she closes the door on her teaching career, it will be the start of a new focus of giving, so that the generations of students to come can continue to make beautiful music.
Please join us on Tuesday, May 14, to celebrate Kinder HSPVA’s beloved Vocal Department Chair, Pat Bonner, at her final concerts as a full-time faculty member: the 2019 Spring Pop Concerts, fittingly titled, “These Are a Few of My Favorite Things.” Walk down memory lane as the current group of Young Performers sings selections from some of Ms. Bonner’s favorite pop concerts of the last five decades!
Giving Levels for the Celebrations on May 14th
- $25 – general admission to the concert (Tickets purchased at the door will be $30.)
- $100 – includes a VIP reception with Ms. Bonner from 4:15-5:45
- If you cannot attend, Ms. Bonner asks that you please consider donating. Use the “Tickets” menu to select “Donation in lieu of attending.” Ms. Bonner will be notified of all gifts.