It was easy being green at Holding Court

Counting colors was the activity of the day at Holding Court this week.

First up were the rainbow colors of Confluence: the Willamette Valley LGBT Chorus. Susie D’Anna, president of the group, which welcomes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight, single, and married residents from up and down the valley, is having its second concert of the chorus’ 16th season, and is inviting the community to come celebrate.

The theme of the spring concert is the Earth, and D’Anna said the songs will reflect all its wonder. There will be songs about mountains, rain, and even silver moons.

“We’re singing, for instance, ‘Soft Rain,’ ‘Blue Bird,’ and ‘Follow the Sun.’  And we’re evening singing about mosquitoes,” D’Anna said.

The group, which she says is a safe place where everyone is welcome, has a no-audition policy. Artistic Director Ray Elliott, D’Anna said, only asks that singers be able to match pitch. “But his way is whoever comes to sing, gets to sing.”

The group practices in Salem and is known for its effort to sing off book, which she said means not having printed music in front during a song. “But folks who don’t feel comfortable that way aren’t forced,” D’Anna said.

The spring concert is being held in three locations: at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 4 at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 700 Marion St. NE, Salem; at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 5 at the Central Lutheran Church, 1820 NE 21st Ave., Portland; and at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, March 6 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 2945 NW Circle Blvd., Corvallis.

Tickets purchased from members or online are $15; $12 for seniors and students, and may be picked up at a will-call window; tickets at the door are $18, $15 for seniors and students. No one is turned away for lack of funds.

There will also be a raffle of a Townie step-through bicycle to help save the Earth. Tickets are one for $5 or five for $20. The $400 valued bike will given away on Sunday. Winner does not need to be present to win.

For more information or to order tickets, go to

Improving student lives

Two retired Salem-Keizer School District educators, Tim Killefer and Kathleen Sundell, stopped by to shine a bright light on the Parent Teach Home Visit Project.

The two retirees were eager to share good news about the Salem-Keizer School District’s rank as the largest district in the state with the home-visit project, which has become an in-demand program nationwide. The concept is pretty simple. Teachers have casual, voluntary conversations with parents outside of conferences and the schools themselves. The project works, the pair said, and has been credited with increasing student attendance rates, increasing student test scores, decreasing suspension and expulsion rates and decreasing vandalism at school sites.

“And it starts because students know that their teacher has been in their home,” Killefer said.

Killefer and Sundell said the next training session for teachers starts March 31, and spring is a good time of year for teachers to try the program.

Teachers must go in pairs, usually outside of normal schools hours, and are paid $35 per person per visit. The project uses Title I funds and a grant from the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation to help pay for the teachers’ time. The program is open to all staff, classified employees, and administrators. Teams can be two teachers; a teacher and classified employee; or even a volunteer if approved by the district, Sundell said.

“We’ve trained hundreds of teachers and want to spread the word so more teachers can see the benefits of this program,” Sundell said.

“We sit, have coffee and ask parents what their hopes and dreams are for their children, and then we sit back and listen,” Killefer said. “This program, which got its start 20 years ago in Sacramento, California, is 80 percent listening and 20 percent talking. It’s building relationships.”

Killefer said the project has been in Salem-Keizer for six years, and has recently been picked up in Portland and Roseburg.

“Other districts are seeing the benefits,” Sundell said.

To learn more about the upcoming training, go to

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