Renewed interest in the music programs in the
schools seems like an appropriate time to feature some of the graduates
of Calhoun County High School whose lives have been shaped by their
beginnings in Calhoun music programs.
The first two are sisters, Carleen Morris Dixon
Webb and Barbara Morris Full, both teachers, whose interest and talents
have had an impact both here and abroad.
Carleen Morris Dixon Webb
Carleen recently retired from teaching music at
Annandale High School in Virginia. She taught on the elementary,
secondary and college levels for 25 years.
Early years in Grantsville were influenced by the
Morris and McCartney families, both of which had musical members.
The McCartney family loved to sing together,
harmonizing by ear at family reunions. Uncle Donald Patrick McCartney
was Carleen’s eighth grade English teacher. It was in his class, after
listening to a recording of Handel’s Messiah, that she decided to major
in music in college.
Her aunt, Bernice Morris Stamp, was a music teacher
and pianist. Carleen started playing the piano at age seven and took
lessons from Wilma Nicholson. She learned to play on her grandmother
Edith Morris’ piano.
Her step-mother, Helen Morris, would play classical
music to wake family members on Sunday morning. She also took Carleen to
her first performance of Handel’s Messiah.
Helen’s sister, Jeanne Rampp Hart, who had degrees
in piano and organ, was her piano teacher when she was a teenager.
Carleen received Jeanne’s extensive music collection after her death.
Carleen also played piano and organ at First Baptist Church,
Grantsville, while in high school.
She attended Glenville State College for two years
and then transferred to West Virginia University, where she received a
BA in organ, and later earned a master of music in choral conducting
from George Mason University. She also attended numerous master classes
and workshops with the country’s major choral conductors throughout the
Carleen performed as a soloist and ensemble singer
under major conductors at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and other
venues in the eastern U.S. She was founder and director of professional
choral ensembles in Washington, D.C., and Juneau, Alaska.
While at Annandale, the choirs achieved the highest
level of artistic excellence, and ensembles were invited to perform at
the White House, National Cathedral, and other venues. An exchange
program with a German choir was established under her direction, which
gave students the experience of touring throughout Germany, Austria and
“Throughout the years, I have heard from many
students who tell me how music has changed their lives and that musical
experiences in high school were some of their most treasured memories.
Many of these students decided to pursue careers in music as a result of
experiences in my classes.
“Some have gone on to careers on Broadway and
opera. They have established lifelong friendships with other choral
students on both sides of the Atlantic--in Virginia and Germany--through
a common love of music. There are few professions where you can have
such a positive influence on the lives of others. I feel blessed to have
been given the opportunity to share my love of music with so many
people,” said Carleen.
Although she retired from teaching school in June
2010, she has continued to work in church music and is music director at
an Episcopal church in Burke, Va., where she is organist and director of
four choirs. She plans to continue working in church music during her
Barbara Morris Full fondly remembers her early
musical experiences in Grantsville, beginning at First Baptist Church,
where her first public performance was in a duet with Carleen singing
the hymn “Have Thine Own Way,
She continued singing and making music in the
church by joining the senior choir and directing the junior choir, which
happened to be all boys, including her four brothers.
Barbara took piano lessons from Wilma Nicholson and
Judy Hathaway and had the experience of singing under Joe Wilt in his
first years at CCHS. She was selected for W.Va. All-State Chorus for two
years, and was a member of Wilt’s original “girl group,” The Mistys, and
participated in The Follies.
In her teaching career, Barbara taught music at
Neale School in Vienna for 36 years, and developed an outstanding music
program known for its high quality choral groups and theatrical
Her fifth and sixth graders presented many
well-known musicals, such as “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor
Dreamcoat,” “Guys and Dolls Jr.,” and “Seussical Jr.”
She taught over 2,500 students, several of whom
were second generation students. It was not uncommon for students to
transfer to the school for the music program.
Barbara was co-founder of the Wood County
Elementary Music Festival, which began in 1996, and continues as a very
important part of music in Wood County. She was on the steering
committee of the festival for many years. Her students were known for
their creative choreography.
Barbara Morris Full and Ben Wilson in "Beauty and the Beast."
She was chosen as Artsbridge “Educator of the Year”
in 1996 and as Wood County Council PTA
“Teacher of the Year” in 1999.
She has been active in community theatre, mostly at
the Actors Guild of Parkersburg, where she is on the board of trustees.
She has performed in over 30 shows, including “Into the Woods,” “The
Civil War,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “1776,” “Barnum,” “Anything Goes,”
“Damn Yankees” and “Same Time, Next Year.”
She has directed 11 shows, including “Annie,” “The
Who’s ‘Tommy’,” “Doubt” and
Barbara has been involved with Parkersburg’s
Historic Smoot Theatre, where she has performed in many concerts and has
been on the staff as music instructor of Camp Vaudeville for 20 years,
researching music of the Vaudeville era, and arranging, composing and
writing lyrics for the Camp’s annual productions.
Since retiring, she is devoting her time to several
activities. Her favorite is the newly-formed Smoot Theatre Children's
Choir, which she is directing. The choir completed its first year with
much success and many more children eager to join the group.
Barbara said, “This is like a dream come
true--being able to direct a select group of wonderful young people who
love to sing and have amazingly supportive parents. It keeps me involved
with young singers, which I love, but isn’t nearly as all-consuming as
teaching in a public school.”
She also enjoys being able to devote more time to
her church, Trinity Episcopal, where she sings in the choir, is on the
Vestry, and is in charge of her church’s monthly newsletter.
“I love to continue to learn new things and am
really enjoying delving into electronic publishing, which constantly
changes and improves,” said Barbara.
“Beginning with my early experiences in Calhoun
County, music has been a vital part of my life and continues to bring
satisfaction and life-long rewards,” said Barbara. “It is an
indescribable feeling to know you have made such a difference in the
lives of your students, giving them wonderful musical memories and
making them music lovers for life.”