22nd annual Amnesty Concert launches in new format at PSO

Autumn Vallee sings accompanied by her father Joe Vallee at the first cafe-style Amnesty Concert at Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School last month. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Autumn Vallee sings accompanied by her father Joe Vallee at the first cafe-style Amnesty Concert at Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School last month. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Autumn Vallee sings accompanied by her father Joe Vallee at the first cafe-style Amnesty Concert at Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School last month. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Autumn Vallee sings accompanied by her father Joe Vallee at the first cafe-style Amnesty Concert at Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School last month. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
A collection of Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School teachers led by Geoff Butcher (left) jam out to close the October cafe-style Amnesty Concert. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)A collection of Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School teachers led by Geoff Butcher (left) jam out to close the October cafe-style Amnesty Concert. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Peter Skene Ogden’s 22nd annual Amnesty Concert is going ahead – but with a series of mini cafe-style fundraiser events on the last Friday of each month rather than one big event in the spring.

Teacher-librarian Noelle Lamoureux, the school’s teacher sponsor for the Amnesty Club, said the concert is the group’s biggest fundraising opportunity but they were unable to hold this past spring because of COVID-19. She was doubtful they could hold it this school year but staff decided on the mini lunch-time concerts as a compromise, which gives them a coffee shop and informal feel.

“We could also have the opportunity to provide food for kids as well,” Lamoureux said.

As part of Amnesty International, the core of the Amnesty Club is to raise funds as well as awareness about issues in both the community and around the world. The school’s club includes about a dozen dedicated, active and socially conscious students, including Grade 11 student Sarah Carter and Grade 9 student Liam Guimond, both in French Immersion, the Justice Club and band.

READ MORE: HAPHAZARD HISTORY: Peter Skene Ogden

The concert series will have a new seasonal theme every few months, beginning with a focus on raising money to assist aid in the civil war currently taking place in Yemen, which was chosen because it’s currently one of the worst humanitarian crises on the planet and because of its relative obscurity.

“They have been having a civil war for the past six years and they’ve also been struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Guimond.

The concert series also provides students with the chance to showcase their talents, which they did at their first concert on Friday, Oct. 30. Lamoureux said the overall response was positive with many students moving through the area and sitting to watch the performances while keeping the gathering to under 50 people.

“Especially this year it’s important to hold events like this just trying to make school more normal. We have to walk around and wear masks and social distance but trying to make kids’ school experience still as normal as possible,” Lamoureux said. “Staff at PSO care about the school and the school culture and this is something positive for kids. It’s nice to see kids being so receptive to it.”

Carter said she was pleased with the turnout as well as the donations and interest among both performers and spectators. Guimond agreed, adding he expects a lot more people will participate next time.

“It’s very important to help people who aren’t as lucky as we are because there’s a lot of people… in worse situations who all need help,” Carter said.

Black Lives Matter is likely the next cause the group fundraise for after Yemen, Carter added, due to its social prominence during the past year.

Anyone interested in donating can drop them off at the school office.


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