For Immediate Release
Contact: Stephanie Fontenot
Title: Director of Communications and Marketing
Phone: (409) 766-5146
GALVESTON, TEXAS – May 8, 2023 – Larrian Menifee, Ball High School graduate and second-year director of the school’s choir program, has been selected as a quarterfinalist for the 2024 Grammy Music Educator Award.
The national annual award recognizes current full-time educators who make significant and lasting contributions to the field of music education and demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining education in schools.
Menifee, 25 years old, is among approximately 200 quarterfinalists across the nation vying for the title, which provides a $10,000 honorarium and a matching grant for the winner’s school music program.
Ball High’s choir program has improved and expanded rapidly under Menifee’s leadership, growing from only 11 students enrolled after the COVID-19 pandemic, to now 62 choral students spanning grades nine through twelve – all of whom Menifee instructs as the sole educator of the program.
“Ball High School used to be a name-drop school in Texas for choir,” Menifee said. “Previous choir directors built the program to be a big thing, and then Ball High kind of lost that. I want people to see that I am passionate about building the program back up again.”
Upon his hire, Menifee took it upon himself to compose a five-year strategic plan for the program, including a new mission statement, measurable goals, community initiatives, program culture, and artistic excellence expectations for the students.
He began restructuring the program adding specific voice classes for beginner-grade students, as well as an audition-based advanced class called “Golden Voices.”
Community recognition of the program has also expanded under Menifee’s leadership with increasing local performance opportunities and sponsorships funding student travel opportunities such as the group’s trip to Mexico last January and a trip planned to New York City next year.
“The Kingdom Choir – the British gospel choir that performed at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding - were at Ball High School thanks to Maureen Patton, Executive Director of Galveston’s Grand 1894 Opera House, who got them to come work with us after she heard one of our performances,” Menifee said. “She was so moved that she emailed me the following week.”
Galveston-born and raised, Menifee, who also coaches volleyball for Ball High, has a special heart for the school’s choir program and has always wanted to give back to students – like him – who pursue choir education.
“A lot of people grow up wanting to be teachers and it might be their dream job, but my dream job has always been to be the choir director at Ball High School,” Menifee said. “This was always the plan. This is what I want to do.”
But for Menifee, it’s about a lot more than choral instruction, performance, or evaluations, especially as the majority of Galveston ISD students come from low socioeconomic status families.
“Through teaching music, a lot of times I am teaching life,” Menifee said. “There are so many life lessons that come from teaching choir and music, and I like that to fuel what I do in the classroom.”
“A lot of my students think you have to look a certain way or come from a certain financial background. You don’t need either of those to use your voice, and you don’t have to have the biggest voice to be a dedicated choir member and to take it far.”
Menifee’s passion and drive are present within GISD during an exciting time for the district, as construction on a new Ball High School facility will begin soon with an opening scheduled in 2025.
Menifee has advocated on behalf of his students for the new facility to include improved spaces for the program, including a bigger choir room, added practice rooms that will allow Menifee to bring in voice instructors for student lessons, and a large ensemble room for choreography rehearsals and more.
As the end of the school year draws near and Menifee and the rest of the GISD community wait to learn which quarterfinalists will be announced as finalists later this year, Menifee and the choir are currently preparing for the program’s second major performance of the year – a spring presentation called “A Night of Love” that will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 11, at the Ball High Auditorium. Admission is free and the event is open to the public.