Weather Forecast

Find more about Weather in Holyoke, CO
Click for weather forecast
Heart Award: Dalton puts heart, soul into love of music PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt   

Chiming in with cheerful kindergarten chirps to stepping out new choreography with the high school Select Choir, K-12 vocal music instructor Marcia Dalton inspires with her love of music every day.

She puts herself wholeheartedly into the school music program, lending encouragement and support for every level.

“She has amazing vision and enthusiasm for her program that is contagious,” said elementary school art teacher Christina Martinez in nominating Dalton for the 2012 Heart Award.

“Every time I see her teaching in action, I learn something new,” added Martinez.

Describing a recent concert directed by Dalton, Martinez said she could feel the time commitment, effort and inspiration with every song.

She said the concert sparked her every emotion that night—from happy to tears and everything in between. “Music moves people, but nothing moves people more than seeing a person laying their passion out for everyone to see.”

It goes far beyond sheer music for Dalton. It’s about giving youth opportunities to be proud of themselves.

“Nothing is more gratifying than seeing a student react to applause and compliments for a performance they’ve worked hard on,” said the proud music teacher. “It’s all about the kids, not about me,” she said humbly.


HHS Select Choir members learn some new choreography from teacher Marcia Dalton, pictured in
center, at one of their 7 a.m. practices which are held twice a week. Assisting Dalton with the Select
Choir group is Maury Kramer, who Dalton says is a godsend. “He knows his stuff.” Kramer was a
freshman in high school at HHS when Dalton was a senior, and they were in choir together. She
praises Kramer’s ideas and ability to arrange songs and direct.  —Enterprise photo

Whether it’s on the concert stage with her K-6 students or beside a soloist or the Select Choir while singing the National Anthem for a sports event, Dalton is right there with a reassuring smile.

Leading K-6 music classes, as well as junior high and high school choirs and HHS Select Choir, gives Dalton an opportunity few teachers have—to teach all age levels. “I get to work with kids their whole school life,” she said.

Dalton is gracious about accepting performance opportunities in the community for her music groups and is pleased with the praise the kids earn.

Student groups have performed at the annual Chamber of Commerce Gala, Friends of the Library annual meeting, as well as numerous other community and club activities.

Last August, the Select Choir practiced and performed for the opening ceremony of the Regional Babe Ruth Baseball tournament in Holyoke.

Dalton gives full credit to the kids for being willing to share their talent and provide an extra touch to school and community events.

Not to minimize the effort of the students, one can clearly see the value of the director’s enthusiasm when witnessing these performances. Dalton’s belief in her students is inspiring in its own right.

Adding another dimension to the music experience in Holyoke, Dalton has a great time organizing trips to shows in the Denver area. “I have a passion for musicals,” she admits. And she loves to see the reactions of both students and adults as they see live performances in settings such as the Buell Theater in Denver.

Some of the best music is from musicals, according to Dalton, and she picks up numerous ideas from songs she hears in musicals. Last fall she sponsored a group to see The Lion King, and this year’s choir is singing a medley from the musical.

It all started for Dalton when she was in junior high and her parents took her to Denver to see the musical Annie.

“I got hooked,” she admits.


Dalton acknowledges her parents, the Bernards

Not only did Dalton’s parents, Max and Rachel Bernard, take her to her first musical in Denver, they encouraged her music in general.

“I owe my folks what I am today,” said Dalton. She shared her two older brothers were very athletic, but that just didn’t click for her. “So my parents encouraged me with my music,” said Dalton.

They put her in piano lessons starting in third grade, and she continued through college. She can’t imagine being a music teacher today without playing the piano.

It was in sixth grade that Dalton realized she really loved to sing. She was a Christmas card in the annual Christmas pageant, and teacher Jean Brown had her sing a solo. “I got bit by the bug then,” she said, as people praised her performance.

Having grown up in Holyoke, it’s kind of surreal for Dalton as she teaches in the elementary school music room where she herself was a music student through the eighth grade.

She remembers seeing The Sound of Music at the Peerless Theatre. Her parents had the original soundtrack of the musical on an LP record, and she listened and listened and listened to that.


Marcia Dalton is pictured with her husband Shawn, at right, and son Trevor, at left.

Dalton’s Grandpa Hoefs played the concertina (similar to an accordion) in polka bands in the Omaha, Neb. area, and Dalton has fond memories of listening to the bands or hearing her grandpa play when he came to visit in Holyoke.

Additionally, her Grandma Bernard had a pretty singing voice. Dalton says her mom and dad both sing, and she loves to hear her dad sing in church. And Max is also a whistler, she shared.

Truth be told, Dalton’s brothers are both quite musical. She remembers when they had a band and sang all kinds of songs. The band would practice in their basement, and Dalton would sit by the heat duct upstairs for hours and listen to their music.

Dalton has a beautiful soprano voice but said she also loves to sing harmony.

In high school, she was inspired by teacher Jeff Davis and his wife Jennifer. “They encouraged us to follow our dream of doing music, and they got us out there in front of people,” said Dalton.

She loved just “sitting and singing” with friends Jeanine Lakin and Marla (Newman) Trumper. The trio sang together often and even tried out and won the chance to sing at the state FHA convention one year.


Music education continues at UNC

After graduating from HHS in 1979, Dalton continued her education at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, where she earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree in 1983.

She taught grades 1-6 general music and directed a sixth-grade show choir for eight years in Sidney, Neb.

In 1991, she accepted a new position in Grant, Neb., where she was Miss Bernard for two months before marrying Shawn Dalton and commuting from Holyoke to teach K-12 vocal music for 14 years.

She also directed the high school show choir and co-directed musicals while in Grant.

Her husband Shawn farms and is a claims supervisor for Rain & Hail, LLC. The couple also has one son, Trevor, a sophomore at HHS, and they’re actively involved and proud in following his athletic, academic and church activities.

Dalton is also appreciative of the strong support by her parents-in-law, George and LaVonne Dalton.

Thoroughly enjoying her experience in Grant, Dalton said she had always wanted to get back to Holyoke to teach, but there wasn’t an opening.

She has a deep respect for one of her former piano teachers, Nancy Kennedy, who was teaching music in the Holyoke schools. Dalton said Kennedy called in the summer of 2005 to tell her there would be a music opening and she would like her to apply. “I have her to thank that I’m here,” said Dalton.

She’s had varied roles in the music department in Holyoke in the seven years she’s been back. She started in K-6 music and also taught a reading group. She has been involved in the junior high and high school programs for the past four years, with the last two being full K-12 coverage.


Heart Award Winner Marcia Dalton demonstrates the heart of a dedicated educator.

—Enterprise photo

Dalton acknowledges she loved all her music teachers as they showed they loved what they did.

It’s clear to see she’s carried on that legacy.

Dalton extends her passion for music and shares it with the community.

She’s extremely committed to Zion Lutheran Church, where she places most of her involvement outside of school. She plays in the bell choir, directs the choir and helps with LITE youth group. For many years she did the opening for catechism classes and music for Vacation Bible School.

“I get to sing and play when they need an accompanist,” Dalton added. She also enjoys being part of duets featuring the piano and fancy keyboard. Her favorite is the Christmas Eve service which featured the Mannheim Steamroller arrangement of Stille Nacht.

Dalton helps coordinate the Phillips County Fair Talent Show and plays on the women’s golf league. She is a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, Holyoke Education Association, Colorado Education Association and the Colorado, Nebraska and National Music Educator Associations.

Dear to her heart is her involvement with Relay For Life. For the last 10 years, she has been on a team, served as a committee chair or emceed the annual fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society. She does it in memory of her niece, Hillary Bernard, who died of leukemia.

Always quick to shift the focus to others, this year’s Heart Award winner emphasizes, “We have good kids and good educators in Holyoke.” “Our kids have such big hearts, and our teachers really care,” Dalton added.

“When you’re surrounded by people like that, it makes your job easy,” she said.


Heart Award
Marcia K. Dalton

Current position: K-12 Vocal Music Specialist/Select Choir Co-Director

Education: Graduated in 1979 from Holyoke High School; received Bachelor of Music Education degree in 1983 from the University of Northern Colorado; started to work on an endorsement in Elementary Education and have several hours of college credits past my BME.

Job experience: Grade 1-6 General Music and directed a Sixth-Grade Swing Choir from 1983-1991 in Sidney, Neb.; K-12 Vocal Music, directed a High School Show Choir and co-directed the High School Musical for 14 years (1991-2005) in Grant, Neb.; in my seventh year of teaching K-12 Vocal Music and co-director for Select Choir (Sound Check) in Holyoke.

Family: Husband Shawn and son Trevor, a sophomore at HHS; Max and Rachel Bernard (Dad and Mom) of Holyoke; brother Brad Bernard and wife Laurie of Lubbock, Texas; brother Larry, Sharon and Jordan Bernard of Holyoke; George and LaVonne Dalton (Father- and Mother-in-law) of Holyoke.

Hobbies: I love singing and playing the piano; scrapbooking; golfing; attending musicals and collecting magnets from all the musicals I have attended (you should see the side of our refrigerator!); following Trevor in all of his sporting and school endeavors; watching the Broncos and Rockies; spending time with family and friends; taking pictures.

Community involvement: I am very involved in Zion Lutheran Church. I direct our adult choir, am a member of bell choir and help with youth group. I golf with our women’s golf association, and I have helped in many capacities with Phillips County Relay For Life since its inception. I look forward to continuing my involvement in Relay For Life. I also look forward to being more involved with the Phillips County Arts Council in the future.

Favorite Holyoke school memory: I would have to say my favorite memories are every time one of my students steps on stage and performs. I love watching them and listening to them. I also would have to mention: when my beloved seniors of 2011 sang a song to me at our final choir concert, when Brendan Mayden told me a special joke in music when he was in elementary school, taking trips with students and parents to see musicals in Denver, how the high school choir class always is patient with my silliness and weirdness and our lunch bunch at the elementary school—we always have lots of laughs.

Favorite Holyoke memories: I feel very fortunate to have grown up in Holyoke and also was fortunate to attend school here. I have so many memories growing up, so I am going to list some, and if you want to know more, feel free to ask! Cruising main street, awesome pep rallies, pizza and pop incident our junior year, band and choir all four years of high school, Select Choir (Celebrate) during school, moving into our new school in 1977 and the huge blizzard that also happened that year, riding bikes all over town, learning to play golf on sand greens, all those terrifying Halloweens spent as a child with a dad as a high school principal, pep club bus rides to and from sporting events and always singing lots of songs, being a member of Solid Rock with Arlan and Laurie Scholl, high school ski trips, sock hops, 4-H (but I won’t tell you our name) and many, many more—I just don’t want to get too boring!

Role models: I am proud to say my father Max is my role model because of his amazing tenure as an educator and administrator. My mother Rachel is my role model because she has the biggest, kindest heart of anyone I know. Other role models include my music teachers growing up: Jean Brown in the elementary and Jeff Davis in high school. They each helped nurture my love for music. Nancy Kennedy also served as a role model­—she was an awesome piano teacher and I learned so much from her.


Heart Award:

This is open to any employee who demonstrates exceptional caring for a student, student's family, a group of students or colleagues. The purpose of the award is to demonstrate that exceptional schools are filled with people who are in this business to make a difference in the lives of others.



Holyoke Enterprise April 19, 2012