Michael Falker, Walpole High School’s previous music department leader, spent over 40 years teaching and conducting Walpole students in band, chorus, and the concert orchestra before his passing in 2015. A large part of Falker’s WHS legacy is undoubtedly Pops Night, where family and friends watch and listen to all music students perform popular pieces in a very decorated WHS gymnasium on a Friday night every May. This year, music department head Kenneth Gable has found a way to simultaneously raise money and honor Falker’s WHS legacy.
Starting this year on Wednesday, May 24, the Walpole High School annual Pops Night will serve as a fundraiser for the Michael Falker Scholarship, a program created shortly after Falker’s death.
The Michael Falker Scholarship, established by Gable and the Walpole Music Department, presents financial aid to Walpole students who want to further their music career, but may not have the means to fund it.
“I had talked to students, and the reoccurring theme was that Mr. Falker always mentored kids financially, so if a student couldn’t rent an instrument or couldn’t go on a trip he would find a way to get that money,” said Gable. “So it seemed fitting that we would create a scholarship where the money is going to go to any music student K-12 who needed the money.”
As the scholarship has been around for approximately two years now, Gable plans to raise money in order to continue the program.
“The first two years [the music department] did nothing for fundraising, we got a lot of donations in the beginning but I would like to try to keep a certain amount of money in the account at all times,” said Gable. “That way we are never in the position where we can’t help someone out.”
In the past months, Gable decided to turn the Pops Night into a fundraiser for the program.
“This year, I’ve been thinking of a lot of ideas to raise money, and it just kind of came to me that we have our pops concert in May every year. This was created by Michael Falker, so it seemed fitting to tie the two together,” Gable said.
Gable has devised a couple of ways to incorporate fundraising for the scholarship into Pops Night.
“One is we are adding a raffle and really looking for five or six big ticket items to raffle off. In addition, we will also sell ads in the programs,” said Gable.
In the months leading up to Pops Night, preparations are already going into the event.
“We haven’t made an exorbitant amount of money in Pops Night in the past, and rather we just come close to breaking even after rentals and cost of tables,” said Gable.”But this year, we are reaching out to everyone saying this will be a benefit event, so already our table company has reduced their cost, and now we are asking for donations as well.”
Gearing towards the annual Pops Night, music students look forward to performing and helping raise money for the Michael Falker Scholarship.
“I think it’s really beautiful that Mr. Falker can live on through this scholarship because in a way, he’s still helping others create music,” said senior Greg Bond, a former student of Falker. “Even in the afterlife, he has this legacy helping others do what he loved best.”
“It is certainly a dedication to him, based on what he has given to the community and Walpole Public Schools,” said Gable. “We are carrying that legacy of taking care of music students just like he did for 40 years.”