Christine Stark Christepherson graduated from Berlin High School in 1975. She went on to earn a B.A. in music education at St. Olaf College serving as co-concert Mistress of the St. Olaf Orchestra during her time there. An accomplished violinist, she had been a member of the Oshkosh Civic Symphony during grades 7 to 12 honing her skills and experiences.
“Mrs. C surely was a force for the good parts of life.” “Mrs. C. made me the person I am today.” These quotes, attributed to Christine, are just a sample of the many from former students.
She did not command a huge salary or a title other than Director of Music at Hillman Community Schools, a remote low-income area in the northern part of lower Michigan. She did command love, respect, and eternal thankfulness from her students who yet today witness to how she changed their lives for the better and made them the people they are today – even now, two years after her death and ten years after being stricken with a brain stem aneurysm.
Having very little money to work with did not stop Chris from having an excellent school music program. She not only repaired, laundered and altered band uniforms when needed, but repaired band instruments as well. She taught band and choir, K-12, most of her 21 years at Hillman. Her teaching skills took the High School band and choirs to MSBOA Competitions on numerous occasions and received several 1 and 2 ratings.
Christine shared her musical talents with the community, playing organ and piano for her church, violin in the Alpena Symphony Orchestra, and in trios and quartets at weddings and funerals. She was also very involved in the lives of her family. When her brain injury stole most of these things from her, she still found ways to participate in life, family and church.
Her favorite sayings: “Set your sights on a challenge and enjoy the experience. Use your skills to make a difference at home and at work.” “If you open up to music it can take you anywhere. Music does not judge or care how good at it you are, but that you appreciate it for the art that it is.”