Nick McGraw, music teacher and Friend de Coup director, departing Mitchell School District

Apr. 19—MITCHELL — The Mitchell School District is looking for a new leader for its show choir program.

Nick McGraw, who has taught music and led the show choir program Friend de Coup at Mitchell High School since 2019, has informed the district he is leaving the position. The move becomes effective at the end of the 2023-24 school year, according to the personnel items included in the agenda packet for the April 22 meeting of the Mitchell Board of Education.

McGraw, a native of Sioux City, came to Mitchell five years ago and helped guide Friend de Coup to numerous high-level competition wins. He was one of the main organizers of the recent

Friends Forever: 40 Years of Mitchell Show Choir

event, part of the annual Cabaret that showcased four decades of performances by the group that saw alumni from years past join the current cast for several nights of music at the Mitchell Performing Arts Center.

Joe Childs, superintendent of the Mitchell School District, said McGraw's leadership in the position will be greatly missed.

"Mr. McGraw's tenure has been filled with dedication, excellence and a sincere commitment to uplifting others through music. His span with Friend de Coup has been nothing short of extraordinary, leaving a lasting mark on our school's music program and the hearts of all those fortunate enough to have crossed paths with him," Childs told the Mitchell Republic in a statement.

His guidance has changed the paths of many students and his coworkers for the better, Childs continued.

"Mr. McGraw has demonstrated a relentless pursuit of excellence that has continued to build our school's vocal music program into a beacon of inspiration. His passion for learning is contagious and has ignited creativity and enthusiasm in his students and his colleagues," Childs said. "His presence has been a source of positivity for our entire community, and he possesses a rare gift for brightening the lives of those around him simply by being himself."

McGraw took over the program following the departure of Jennifer Randall, who directed Friend de Coup and the Kernel Choirs for three years.

The Mitchell Republic reached out to McGraw for comment but had not received a reply by the time this story was published.

Childs said efforts are now underway to find a successor to McGraw. The position is posted as a vacancy, and he said the district will assess candidates against several key criteria essential for maintaining and advancing the excellence of the music program.

McGraw set a high standard that the district would like to maintain, Childs said.

"Foremost will be a deep-rooted musical expertise including proficiency in various vocal techniques and teaching. The ideal candidate will have a passion for teaching students and a commitment to nurturing the talents and aspirations of young people," Childs said.

Friend de Coup has grown over the course of its four decades of music and performances to the point where it is intrinsically linked to the Mitchell School District and the Mitchell community at large. That tradition only grew under McGraw and the district will look to hire an individual that can continue that level of performance.

The recent Friends Forever event is a great example of the impact the program itself has had, he said.

"I think this year's Cabaret was a great example of how important Friend de Coup has been to everyone that's ever had an interaction with it. To me, it seems evident that Friend de Coup has become an integral part of our district's identity," Childs said. "The program serves as a beacon of excellence, and perfectly showcases the district's commitment to providing a well-rounded education that encompasses the arts. Friend de Coup's performances clearly entertain audiences and win competitions, but more importantly they remind us of our creativity and vibrant culture."

McGraw's contribution to that vibrant culture will be remembered, both by district leaders and the students he has impacted, Childs said.

"Although we're forced to say farewell, we'll do it with a strong sense of gratitude for his selfless dedication and commitment to the success and well-being of our students," Childs said.