History Overview

2009
Carson Stapleton retires from the GospelKnights Program. He returns to the prgoram 5 months later with the "encouragement" of Pastor Bejoy Samuel [Bethel Gospel Center] and Pastor Mark Quarles [Allen Memorial COGIC]

2011

Mt. Vernon GospelKnights do a promo for McDonalds Gospelfest on MY9

2010
Mt. Vernon GospelKnights travel to Poconos West High School for a combined choir concert. Trip included a waterpark.

2008
Dr. Taylor of the Black Music Caucus School Gospel Choir Competitions passes away. Carson Stapleton was offered the position to take over the competition by Dr. Taylor.
2007
Mt. Vernon High School GK Coach Choir is created for summer engagements. GK Coach performed in Philadelphia, PA for a summer camp program. Over 5,000 youth were in attendance. Out first overnight trip.

2006
The Mt. Vernon High GospelKnights take 1st place in the Open Division of the Pathmark Gospel Choir Copmpetition. The GEMS GospelKnights take 1st place in the Youth Division of the Pathmark Gospel Choir Competitions.

2006 is the largest combined program membership of 200.

2005
The Mt. Vernon High School GospelKnights take 1st Place in the Youth Division of the Pathmark Gospel Choir Competitions in Grand Central Terminal, NYC. The Mt. Vernon High School GospelKnights take second place High School Division of the Black Music Caucus School Gospel Choir Competitions. Mt. Vernon High School GospelKnights do a promo opening for the McDonalds Gospelfest TV Program on MY9.
2004
GEMS Gospel Choir takes 3rd Place in the Elementary School Division of the Black Music Caucus School Gospel Choir Competitions [ Dr. Camille Tayllor]
2003
GEMS Gospel Choir takes 1st Place in the Elementary School Division of the Black Music Caucus School Gospel Choir Competitions [ Dr. Camille Tayllor]
2002
GEMS Gospel Choir takes 3rd Place in the Elementary School Division of the Black Music Caucus School Gospel Choir Competitions [ Dr. Camille Tayllor]
2001
GEMS Gospel Choir takes 1st Place in the Elementary School Division of the Black Music Caucus School Gospel Choir Competitions [ Dr. Camille Tayllor]

2000
The GospelChoirs of Mt. Vernon, Inc (tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization) was created by Elias Goodzeit, Esq. Mr. Goodzeit's son was briefly in the GEMS [Graham Elementary Magnet School) Gospel Choir. He saw the potential of the program for the youth in the community. A pro bono contributio. 2000 was the first year all 4 programs had GospelKnights added to their names; GEMS GospelKnights, Teen Fellowship GospelKnights, Mt. Vernon High School GospelKnights, Royal GospelKnights.

The GEMS GospelKnights, Teen Fellowship GospelKnights, Mt. Vernon High School GospelKnights and the Royal GospelKnights compete in the Pathmark Gospel Choir Competitions in Grand Central Terminal in NYC.

1999
GEMS Gospel Choir takes 1st Place in the Elementary School Division of the Black Music Caucus School Gospel Choir Competitions [ Dr. Camille Tayllor]
1998
GEMS Gospel Choir.
1997
The Mt. Vernon High School GospelKnights competes in the McDonalds Gospelfest in Bridgeport, CT.
1996
GEMS Gospel Choir. Inger reaches Mt. Vernon High School, the Mt. Vernon High School GospelKnights program begins. It is not the first Mt. Vernon High School gospel choir, it is the first time they are called the Mt. Vernon GospelKnights.
1995
GEMS Gospel Choir.
1994
GEMS Gospel Choir.
1993
The "GospelKnights" competed in their first competition. The 1993 Black Music Caucus School Gospel Choir Competitions under the direction of Dr. Camille Tayllor. The Competition added an elementary school division in 1993. The GEMS Gospel Choir did not do very well.
1992
GEMS Gospel Choir.

1991
GEMS Gospel Choir

1990
GEMS Gospel Choir

1989
The Graham Gospel Choir continues to grow in size.

1988
Carson Stapleton's oldest daughter Inger goes to the Graham Elementary School to join her brother Aaron in September. Mr. Stapleton becomes PTA President. In a further attempt influence his children's public school environment, Mr. Stapleton takes over the school's small gospel choir from Elizabeth Kent. The Graham School Gospel Choir under the direction of Carson Stapleton had begun.

 

GospelKnights Bio

When Did the Program Begin? The Program began in 1989 at Graham Elementary School in Mt. Vernon, NY. Mr. Stapleton [Graham’s PTA President] began the program to influence the school environment his then 4 children and their friends. As they progressed through the system he started choir programs at each school they attended. By 2000, Mr. Stapleton directed four school based choirs; the GEMS GospelKnights [Elementary School], the Franko/ Davis Teen Fellowship GospelKnights [Middle School], the MVHS GospelKnights [High School] and the Royal GospelKnights, a choir made up of over 30 parents & teachers. Each Choir has competed in the McDonalds Gospelfest and the Pathmark Gospel Choir Competitions.

The Mt. Vernon High School GospelKnights [GK] is an afterschool urban contemporary gospel choir open to middle school and high school students in the Mt. Vernon school district [Westchester County]. Volunteer driven, GK is under the direction of its founder, Carson Stapleton. The award winning GospelKnights compete in the three major Gospel Competitions in the Northeast. They have appeared on both major and local TV stations as well as heard on 1010 WINS, WBLS and KISSFM radio stations. Their musical style is heavily choreographed and rhythmically punctuated. Its members are encouraged to direct and be musicians. They have opened for gospel artists; Ty Tribbett and the Williams Brothers. GK was formed in 1989. The GospelKnights program runs from Sept to May. The GospelKnights are on GospelChoirs.com, MySpace, YouTube & FaceBook. The GospelKnights umbrella corporation, the GospelChoirs of Mt. Vernon, Inc. is a Section 501[c][3]. Although recognized as an after school program, they are not funded by the school district. Their members enjoy singing and dancing to gospel music.

Purpose: Scope Of Services

  • To provide artistically enriching afterschool activities for students throughout Westchester County.
  • To promote social integration between the administration, teachers, parent, students and community through artistic activities including dance, singing and fashionable expression.
  • To offer its member opportunities they may not have with any other agency or club in Westchester County.
  • To use Gospel Music as its foundation of artistic expression.
  • To perform in quality and high profile venues.

Activities

The organization accepts engagements to perform at schools, community events, churches, concerts, competitive opportunities locally, regionally, and nationally.   Accepting an engagement is solely at the discretion of the Musical Director.

  • Recruitment throughout the County
    • Method:
      • - Flyers to schools
      • - Website announcements
      • - Ads in newspapers
      • - Personal site visits
  • Enrollment
    • - Membership Forms will be completed
    • - Parental consent forms will be completed
    • - List of respective participants will be sent to each respective school
    • - Acknowledgement of acceptance will be sent to school and parents
  • Rehearsals
    • - A rehearsal schedule will be sent to parents and school
    • - If two or more practices are missed that student will not be able to perform at an engagement booked that month.
  • Voice Coach
    • - Voice coaching will be available for Students who request that service (optional)
  • Music Education
    • - Theory classes will be available (optional)
    • - Note reading (optional)

Outcomes

  • Produce young men and women who are self confident with an intrinsic desire to achieve success
  • Develop a ‘brand’ organization that will continue beyond the initial founders.
  • Mentor  individuals who will take  a leadership role
  • Create jobs/careers
  • Indirectly impact academic achievement by setting criteria for performance opportunities.
  • Expose young men and women to an international experience
  • Provide Internship opportunities
  • College Bound
  • Affiliation with other performing arts institutions
  • Become a recognized premier  gospel (youth) choir

 

Philosophy

Membership is open to any student who would like to join.  Auditions are never held. When a student joins the choir their position is commonly in the last row.  As they improve they move forward.  The goal is self motivation.
We promote and encourage members to work together using a choral environment as a foundation. Students are given an opportunity to develop leadership skills.
The aspect of working together can be an emotional experience when some of your most gifted and talented young people have very challenging interpersonal skills. We strive to provide opportunities to perform in high profile engagements.
Because of our unique approach to singing, we require a high level of choreographed proficiency. We have a unique choral program that combines dance and song. This requires a great deal of practice, concentration, and commitment. The choreography is one of the biggest draws to joining the Program.

Budget Narrative

A major objective for the school year 2011-2012 is to build membership, extending invitations to school in Southern Westchester. Our advertising budget has increased from $250 to $2500.  The greater portion of our budget will be to pay the  Choir & Musical Directors  who can no longer   worked without monetary compensation because of the   increased in  the growth of the organization and the additional time for rehearsals and administrative responsibilities.  Transportation cost also has increased due to the cost of fuel and the number of buses that will be needed to transport a larger choir.   We have also added a Fund Development Director.  This addition to our staff is in anticipation of the growth we expect in the next two years. Or target membership number is 450 students in grades 4-12 and a Collegiate Division with $247,000 annual budget.     

Constituency

  • For twenty-two years GK has served the public school population in Mount Vernon.  Many of the students came from single parent households, receiving public assistance or meeting the criteria for low income.  The Mount Vernon schools have a high school dropout rate of 32% and middle school drop-out rate of 24%.  The SAT scores are the lowest in the County, and college admission and completion is in the single digits.  One of our objectives for the 2011-2012 school year includes expanding membership to students outside the Mt. Vernon school district. We would have a more inclusive organization truly representing the communities in our County.  (The Program Director, Carson Stapleton, at the request of Concordia College started a GK program at Concordia College.) Having a diverse organization that represents all cultural backgrounds is one of the many goals the GospelKnights Program is striving for in the 21st Century.  We believe this can be achieved through artistic expression.  
  • Participation

Any elementary and high school student in Westchester County is eligible for membership in the GospelKnights program (GK).

Membership Forms

  1. Membership Application
  2. Emergency Contact Form
  3. Transportation Form
  4. Media Form
  5. Permission Slip
  6. Mt. Vernon GospelKnights members must complete each of these forms to participate.