Voices, a Podcast from the Seneca Valley School District

Episode 68: Introducing the 24th Annual Senior Holiday Event with Mr. Varden Armstrong

November 21, 2022 Seneca Valley School District
Voices, a Podcast from the Seneca Valley School District
Episode 68: Introducing the 24th Annual Senior Holiday Event with Mr. Varden Armstrong
Show Notes Transcript

Introducing the 24th Annual Senior Holiday Event with Mr. Varden Armstrong

Mr. Varden Armstrong, Performing Arts Coordinator and Secondary Instrumental Music Teacher

Mr. Varden Armstrong is in his 24th year of teaching.  He is a band director in the Intermediate High School and High School buildings and works with students in five instrumental ensembles. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Mr. Armstrong is also the Performing Arts Coordinator for the Seneca Valley School District.  He is responsible for coordinating budgets, calendars, equipment and scheduling for all performing arts programs.  This includes Band, Chorus, Orchestra, Dance, Theatre and Video production in grades 4-12 across seven buildings.  Mr. Armstrong, an SV Alumni, received his undergraduate degree in Music Education from the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University and has continued his education at Duquesne University studying conducting, music administration and music technology.  


  • What is the Annual Senior Holiday Event?
  • When does the event take place and who can attend?
  • How are students participating?
  • How can people register for the 24th Annual Senior Holiday Event? 
  • Why this event is a great way for students and the Seneca Valley School District to give back to the community.

File Name: Voices E68 Varden Armstrong.mp3

File Length: 00:08:03

 FULL TRANSCRIPT (with timecode)

 00:00:02:26 - 00:00:04:03

Introduction: Welcome to Voices. 

00:00:04:11 - 00:00:10:06

Introduction: A national award-winning podcast brought to you by the Seneca Valley School District. 

00:00:11:16 - 00:00:23:03

Jeff Krakoff: Jeff Krakoff we're speaking with Varden Armstrong, who is instrumental music teacher, grades 9-12 and also performing arts coordinator for grades 4-12. Thanks for joining us today. 

00:00:23:21 - 00:00:24:15

Varden Armstrong: Thanks for having me, Jeff. 

00:00:24:26 - 00:00:38:00

Jeff Krakoff: So we're getting close to the holiday season, and I understand the Annual Senior Holiday Event is coming soon. It's the 24th year for this event. How long have you been involved with this? 

00:00:38:16 - 00:00:53:12

Varden Armstrong: Well, this is my 26th year of teaching. I'm sometimes ashamed to admit, but I've been teaching that long. And this is my 21st year at Seneca Valley, and I've been involved the entire time I've been here. So I've been involved with the event almost as long as the event has existed. 

00:00:53:25 - 00:00:59:09

Jeff Krakoff: Okay. Tell me more about the event, if you can describe for us. 

00:01:00:00 - 00:01:30:25

Varden Armstrong: This is an annual event that we host senior citizens living in our community. They're free to come to this event and enjoy some entertainment from our performing arts department, as well as a meal that is served by some of our students here at Seneca Valley. And it's just an opportunity for us to give back and serve the community. It's a really exciting event that's going to take place on Tuesday, December 20, from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. And we host this in our Intermediate High School. We use the auditorium as well as the cafeteria. 

00:01:31:11 - 00:01:39:18

Jeff Krakoff: Awesome. So you excuse me. You mentioned this is open to seniors. Is that any senior anywhere? They have to live within the District? 

00:01:40:03 - 00:01:59:04

Varden Armstrong: Yeah. It's senior citizens that live in Seneca Valley's District, and it's a free event. It really is a great opportunity to welcome them to our campus. You know, sometimes they don't get a chance to see our campus on a regular basis. And we have wonderful students and wonderful things to show and showcase, and we want to serve and honor them. So it's a great opportunity for us and them. 

00:01:59:13 - 00:02:08:21

Jeff Krakoff: Yeah. So you mentioned this is an opportunity to showcase the talented students, but how are all the different ways that students participate in this event? 

00:02:09:15 - 00:02:43:13

Varden Armstrong: Well, in terms of entertainment, annually, we have the High School Orchestra, the Madrigals, which is a vocal group and jazz ensemble, perform for the senior citizens. And it's just a great way to showcase our students. But I can tell you that the individual directors, we choose both holiday and non holiday music, and we choose music sometimes even as far back as the beginning of the school year with this performance in mind because we love playing for the senior citizens. And so like I'm one of the directors, I direct the Jazz ensemble and I love this event and my students love this event. 

00:02:43:15 - 00:03:02:08

Varden Armstrong: So it's a lot of fun. The other students that are involved are our National Honor Society students. They help serve the sit down meal and our JROTC students assist the our guests with anything they might need if they need help getting from one room to the next, or finding their seat or any accommodations. We have students serving in that capacity as well. 

00:03:02:17 - 00:03:11:09

Jeff Krakoff: Yeah, it sounds like a big production. You mentioned a sit down meal. When and where does that fit in on that particular day? 

00:03:11:26 - 00:03:30:22

Varden Armstrong: Well, we start with everyone in the auditorium for the entertainment portion, and then after entertainment, we escort the our guests over to the cafeteria where they have a sit down holiday meal. And they're served by the students here at Seneca Valley. So it's a it's a really nice it's a free meal, for goodness sakes. That sounds great to love a free meal.  

00:03:30:24 - 00:03:36:25

Jeff Krakoff: Yeah, everybody likes that. Can you share a preview? What kinds of things are on the menu for the meal? 

00:03:37:24 - 00:03:49:29

Varden Armstrong: I honestly don't know that. I know it's the holiday meal. I'm not sure what we've done in the past and what our cafeteria staff has in mind, but it's always well-received and, receives compliments on how much they enjoyed the meal that served.  

00:03:50:01 - 00:03:56:19

Jeff Krakoff: So, yeah, I'm sure it's going to be great. Typically, do you have an idea how many seniors come to the event? 

00:03:57:09 - 00:04:16:26

Varden Armstrong: Well, to be honest with you, it's varied quite a bit. With COVID recently, as many in our world have, but we hosted as many as 400 seniors at this event. It's that's part of the reason why over time, it has moved from the Senior High School auditorium to the Intermediate High School auditorium, because we have more capacity over there and we want to make sure that everyone is able to come. 

00:04:17:20 - 00:04:24:22

Jeff Krakoff: You know, you bring up a good point with COVID. How has that affected this event over the last couple of years? And how is this year different? 

00:04:25:11 - 00:04:48:09

Varden Armstrong: Well, this year we're really excited to welcome back a fully in-person experience. We were able to host everyone in person last year for the entertainment portion, but we did not have a sit down meal. And to have this event return to its original goal and the way that we presented it in the past, like many things in our world, it just feels normal and normal feels pretty good. So we're really excited to be able to host the event again.  

00:04:48:19 - 00:04:55:28

Jeff Krakoff: Okay. So if I'm a senior citizen, how can I register? Do I have to buy a ticket? Do I have to RSVP? How does it work? 

00:04:56:18 - 00:05:21:23

Varden Armstrong: Well, like I said, it's completely free. I think that's the important part to remember. All you need to do is RSVP so you can call our school district. Our main number is 724-452-6040. At the prompt, you push zero and our front desk receptionist will take care of your reservation right then and there. So we just. We just ask for reservation so we know how many to expect so we can prepare properly. But it's completely free. And all you have to do is RSVP.  

00:05:22:07 - 00:05:26:16

Jeff Krakoff: Is there any kind of an online version or do people actually have to call the phone number?  

00:05:26:24 - 00:05:34:13

Varden Armstrong: They actually have to call, which I think is kind of nice. I think it's good to call in, actually speak to a real person and get a reservation made.  

00:05:34:23 - 00:05:39:22

Jeff Krakoff: Right. Right. All right. Is there anything else that everybody needs to know about this event? 

00:05:40:18 - 00:06:46:20

Varden Armstrong: I think, Jeff, the other thing I'd like to add about this event is it's just a great way for our students and our school district to give back to the community, honor the members of our community. You know, I think a lot of times today students can be viewed as self-centered or maybe even disconnected. And that's not true of the Seneca Valley students and our student body. And we look forward to the opportunity to showcase what our students do and the good work that they do. Just that opportunity is invaluable as well as, you know, being fully transparent. What a great opportunity for us as a District to teach our students the act of service and putting others in front of ourselves and, you know, doing something for someone else and honoring someone else? That's invaluable from our perspective as well. So it's just a you can probably hear the way I'm speaking of it. It's a wonderful event if you've not been to this before, if you're listening to this podcast today and you've never been to the event, well, I would really encourage you to get a reservation and come and join us if you've been here in the past. We are so excited to welcome you again. We hope that you come back. We look forward to it. And it's a really, really fun and exciting event. 

00:06:47:10 - 00:06:56:17

Jeff Krakoff: All right. So if you can just one more time, repeat, when do they have to RSVP by? What's the deadline and what is the phone number? Once again. 

00:06:57:10 - 00:07:04:18

Varden Armstrong: I believe the RSVP date deadline is next. Well, Jeff, you caught me on a quick one here.  

00:07:06:00 - 00:07:08:01

Jeff Krakoff: I actually have a copy. 

00:07:08:14 - 00:07:09:00

Varden Armstrong: Of you.  

00:07:09:07 - 00:07:13:03

Jeff Krakoff: Of something in front of me. It's December 13th is the deadline. 

00:07:13:05 - 00:07:45:12

Varden Armstrong: Okay. I can remember that. I could remember that date. I know it was November 13th. So December 13th is our deadline. And let me give you that information again. You're going to call in to our school district. Yeah. Our main line number is 724-452-6040. At the prompt, you're going to push zero. That's going to get your right to our front desk receptionist and she'll be out to take care of your reservation for you by December 13th. And the event itself is on December 20th and doors open at noon, but the event starts at 12:30 and then it runs until about 2:30 in the afternoon. 

00:07:45:21 - 00:07:56:13

Jeff Krakoff: All right. What a wonderful event. Can't wait. Again, we were speaking with Varden Armstrong, who is instrumental music teacher and performing arts coordinator. Thanks so much for all this great information. 

 00:07:57:03 - 00:07:57:19

Varden Armstrong: Thank you, Jeff.  

00:07:58:00 - 00:07:58:27

Jeff Krakoff: All right. Take care.