Chippewa Valley choirs set to host ‘A Capella for Autism’

By: Thomas Franz | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published April 7, 2015


CLINTON TOWNSHIP— Since 2010, James Pecar has used the power of music to help raise awareness for autism.

As a student at Stetson University in Florida, he began an a cappella group called Hat Trick, which began hosting “A Cappella for Autism” events in 2010. The group raised funds for the Macomb and St. Clair affiliate of the Autism Society of America, and it continues to do so today.

After graduating from Stetson and finding his way to Chippewa Valley High School, Pecar continued to help the same autism society affiliate through a cappella music.

Pecar is set to put on his second “A Cappella for Autism” event at Chippewa, which will take place at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 21 at the Henrichsen Auditorium in the high school.

Pecar, the director of choirs at Chippewa, was eager to jump-start the school’s annual April concert when he arrived at the school, and he thought the “A Cappella for Autism” event would be the perfect way to accomplish that.

After having 80 students sing in the inaugural event last year, more than 300 students from Chippewa Valley Schools will be performing this year.

“This concert means more to them than any other concert,” Pecar said. “They’ve really grown to see that their work is making a difference, and they feel good about doing these things. They seem to be aware of the cause, and they understand because there are even students in the choir that have autism.”

Students from the Chippewa, Erie Elementary and Algonquin Middle School choirs will be performing.

“For homework, the students have to understand the concept of autism and understand the benefits of music on it,” Pecar said. “We’re crossing the curriculum perfectly. We’ve got fifth-graders through 12th-graders singing a concert together for the same cause, and it’s just really nice.”

The show will begin and end with all of the students performing together, and there will be 10 different choir groups to perform throughout the show.

Last year’s event raised nearly $10,000 to assist individuals affected by autism and also to assist the Chippewa Valley High School choirs. This year, Pecar hopes the event will raise $20,000.

“Last year, we had a little more than half capacity in our auditorium, and this year we will sell out. It was received very well. It’s not just a concert for the parents; it’s a concert for the community,” Pecar said.

The Autism Society of America is celebrating more than 30 years of helping families by providing public awareness, education, advocacy and resources related to autism.

The event will begin with a fishbowl raffle, a miracle minute, door prizes and informative sessions about autism.

Tickets for the event, which is open to the public, can be purchased online at