The Washington High School Vocal Music Department, under the direction of Robert Cannon, presented the 75th and final presentation of Handel's Messiah in December of 2018. Some 40 alumni joined in with the high school choirs to sing along witht the orchestra a very moving and well-done finalé to this revered school tradition.
Started in the late 1930s by Miss Cleo Ressler, this challenging oratorio was first staged at St. Paul's Lutheran Church before being moved to the WHS auditorium. In an era before multi-channeled television and multiple sporting events, large crowds filled whatever venue in which it was held.
In recent years attendance and alumni participation had diminished to the point that the concert had become a financial burden on the choral program. A recent boost in funding by a "Save the Messiah" campaign in cooperation withe fundraising by the WHSAA kept it alive for a few more sessions, but ultimately the reality of ongoing fund raising overwhelmed those involved. Selections from the Messiah will now be a part of a winter choral concert as presented by the Massillon Schools combined choir programs.
The effort to "Save the Messiah" fell onto the shoulders and hearts of many alumni, but of note for a generous donation of time and effort are Scott Rudy ('80) and his connections with the Boeing Corporation matching funds program; Ron Swartz ('64), Dick Gotschall ('65), and Lee Brunckhart ('91) who manned the actual "Save the Messiah" committee; the Arts in Stark program; and the WHSAA through the newsletter drive for donations.