- Associated Press - Saturday, June 30, 2018

FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. (AP) - When Esther Morey moved from Indiana to West Virginia when she was 19 years old, she had no idea where the road would take her. Eleven years ago, when she began Coda Mountain Academy, she knew she was on the road to something great.

Morey, founder and executive director of Coda Mountain Academy, was posted up in Fayetteville recently for Coda Kidz Music, Art and Drama Camp, one of seven programs the Academy offers to the community.

“We’re all about realizing potential,” she said. “God has helped us create a safe environment for these children. They need a place to belong, and they have that here.”

Morey explained the Academy has three main goals - giving children a place to belong, teaching real-life skills and good character, and giving unconditional love.

During this week’s program, the music, art and drama camp, around 80 students were in attendance.

Kathie Kiser, the director strictly for the music, art and drama camp, said the program is aimed towards keeping with the Academy’s mission of providing a safe place for children while bringing them together to pursue music.

With different themes every year, this year’s theme is the “Classical Era,” Kiser explained, and the students’ final performance for their parents and the community was set for Friday.

Kiser added it is important for her to take part in directing the camp because of the importance music has to her.

“My daughter is currently 21 and she began playing violin when she was 4, cello when she was 10, and piano when she was 3,” she said. “Now, she’s pursing it as a career, but it was my responsibility to get her interested in it.”

Children from counties all throughout the region attended this week’s program, and Kiser said each one leaves with either more knowledge in music, or a newly found love for it.

Despite what most people may think, Kiser said, anyone can “do” music.

“They have to appreciate it, want it, and yearn for it,” she said. “Like the example with my daughter - the reason she’s so into it now, is because I pushed for it when she was young.

“Kids need that push.”

According to Kiser, having the ability to play a musical instrument lowers one’s percentage of drug use and alcohol, and pushes them to work harder in school.

“A child who excels in music, their self-esteem is stronger, their SAT scores are higher, they are a better math student, and they are more disciplined,” she said. “Those are all character traits we want in ourselves and our children, and I think music is one way to go about that.”

The music, art and drama camp based in the Classical Era allowed children to learn about and play a variety of instruments throughout the week, sing classical songs, and even put on their own performances.

For 10-year old Rad Dobson, the highlight of his week was learning to play the ukulele.

He said at one point he had tried the guitar, but the ukulele is much more his style.

“I just started playing it two days ago. I wouldn’t say I’m good, but I’m not terrible,” he said with a laugh, “but it’s definitely the favorite part of my week so far.”

Ava Ries, 10, came back to Coda Kidz Music, Art and Drama Camp after she attended last year. She said last year’s camp encouraged her to improve at playing the piano.

“I’ve been playing for a year and a half,” she said. “It’s really fun, and I keep getting better. Coming here has really made me like music more, and want to be better in it.”

“And, I get to meet a lot of cool people.”

Morey explained although the Academy’s programs are focused towards at risk youth, they accept all.

“You get a group of kids together from all different backgrounds, and they help each other in so many different ways. And that’s really the goal of it all.”

To find out more about Coda Mountain Academy, and the programs it offers, visit codamountain.com.


Information from: The Register-Herald, http://www.register-herald.com

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