Holyoke High’s St. Paddy’s Day Treat: Guest Speaker Sheila Raye Charles

Shelia Raye Charles, daughter of Ray Charles, brings her inspirational story to Holyoke High School.

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Holyoke High’s St. Paddy’s Day Treat: Guest Speaker Sheila Raye Charles

Shelia Raye Charles looks to inspire HHS students with her life story on March 17 (photo credit: Google images)

Shelia Raye Charles looks to inspire HHS students with her life story on March 17 (photo credit: Google images)

Shelia Raye Charles looks to inspire HHS students with her life story on March 17 (photo credit: Google images)

Shelia Raye Charles looks to inspire HHS students with her life story on March 17 (photo credit: Google images)

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St. Patrick’s Day has always been a big deal in Holyoke, but this March 17 Holyoke High students are in for an extra special treat: Sheila Raye Charles, the daughter of the famous singer Ray Charles, will be coming to speak to the student body.

The event is sponsored by Holyoke High School’s business club. The members of the club have participated in a multitude of fundraising activities, including selling cookie dough and lottery calendars, which have allowed them to be able to pay for a guest speaker to come to the school.

The club owes a special thanks to Ms. Alderman-Shapiro, a 9th grade special education teacher at HHS, who came up with the idea to have Sheila Raye Charles come speak at the school and brought the idea to the attention of the club. Ms. Alderman-Shapiro got the chance to hear Sheila speak at Chestnut Middle School in Springfield during the 2012-2013 school year. Alderman-Shapiro had previously invited Sheila Raye Charles to speak to the students of Turners Falls.

“She’s a very enthusiastic speaker. She really speaks to her audience. A lot of the topics she discusses she has had personal experience with and a lot of what she says can be easy for students to relate to,” said Ms. Alderman-Shapiro. “When I asked Mr. Sullivan about having her come and speak at Holyoke High, he thought it was a great idea.”

Sheila Raye Charles will be sharing her story of her former struggles with drug addictions, prison, and her relationship with her father. She will discuss how she overcame those struggles and turned her life around.

The Business Club has put on many fundraisers, including selling cookie dough, to get this wonderful guest speaker experience.

“I think a lot of kids will find it inspiring to see how she rose above her challenging situation,” said Mrs. Reardon, Business Club adviser.

At the end of her talk, she also plans to sing a few songs. Sheila is a talented singer/songwriter in the R&B and acoustic jazz fields. Her songs contain powerful lyrics that tell stories of personal journey, hope, and love. Her music career first started when she was nineteen years old. Initially, she did not have support from her father but was soon able to gain it through demonstrating her strong commitment to music. Today, she leaves audiences in awe with renditions of some of her father’s most famous songs including Georgia On My Mind and Hit The Road, Jack.

“I’m really excited that Sheila’s coming to our school! I think listening to her story and hearing her sing will be really great experiences for all of the students at our school and I’m really looking forward to it,” said Alyssa Bellefeuille ’18.

Holyoke High Students, mark you calendars: you won’t want to miss this sure to be impactful assembly on March 17!

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