CHAMPLAIN - When entering Northeastern Clinton Central High School, the public will now see proof of the musical talent of its students.
Eight years ago, an alumni of the school's chorus visited choral director Kathy Kokes' classroom. It was a moment Kokes considers the catalyst for a brand new trophy case in the school's lobby.
"I used to have the [New York State School Music Association] plaques up here," Kokes explained. "They came in and they were staring at their award."
From there, Kokes worked with her students to have their trophies and awards set out for all to see.
"They asked about having a trophy case in the lobby where the public could see it and people came for concerts," she said.
However, it was in the last two years that chorus president and a senior at the school, Matthew Faubert, worked to make the trophy case a reality.
"Ms. Kokes told me other groups had tried to get a trophy case up and had been unsuccessful with it," Faubert said. "That's when I told her that I would get one up before I graduated."
Now, just months before graduation, Faubert's promise has come true.
"Right now I'm overwhelmed with excitement about it being up," he said. "Just because everyone can see the achievements that the chorus and the band have achieved over the years."
Several months ago, Kokes approached her friend, Scott Bleau, a 1987 graduate of the school, about creating the trophy case.
"I came in and talked to some of the students and got an idea of what they were looking for," Bleau recalled. "We did a drawing and went from there."
Bleau, who currently works at Pfizer Inc., has been doing woodworking for 10 years - a hobby he hopes to make into a business when he gets laid off in the spring.
"I've done all kinds of furniture," he explained. "My goal is to at least have all the furniture in my house be stuff that I've built."
"That's something I really enjoy doing and I was happy to be involved with this project because I know it was really important for the kids to get their awards out there," Bleau added.
The trophy case, which took Bleau nearly 60 hours to complete, now houses trophies and awards for both the band and the chorus, which students have received in the last decade.
"We have trophies from competitions that the choruses went to before I was teaching here," Kokes explained. "We have local talent contest trophies that kids have won. We have NYSSMA certificates."
"There's an eclectic mix of different levels of trophies and awards in there," she added.
The awards and trophies in the case will be changed from time to time, according to Kokes.
"We want to try to keep them as recent as we can," she said. "It's nice for the alumni to come back ... and if a competition or an event was important to them, they look for it."
According to Kokes, the case was able to be built with support from school board president Randy LaCount.
"When I approached Mr. LaCount with this idea, he was 110 percent behind the students and behind this happening," Kokes explained. "He knew exactly where he wanted, how it was going to be placed."
Kokes also wanted to thank maintenance supervisor Jim Menard and his crew who attached the trophy case to the wall, as well as Chazy Hardware, Adams Glass, and Adirondack Hardwoods for materials.