Who We Are
In the summer of 1986, a husband and wife music teaching team, John and Nancy Wylie had a vision to organize a choral group of students that would entertain at various civic and social events in the West Chester area in honor of the Statue of Liberty Centennial. Today, thirty-one years later, the Amerikids continue to offer musical performances throughout the Chester County area. Amerikids has earned a reputation on the local, state and national level for providing patriotic, inspirational musical performances and community service to civic and health care organizations. Performances are scheduled at hospitals, retirement homes and communities, veteran facilities, community and civic events.
The Amerikids is comprised of 20 students representing 13 different schools in Chester County and offers musical performances throughout the Chester County area. The current musical program includes show tunes, Latin rhythms, jazz and patriotic selections, including a salute to the Armed Forces. Many numbers are choreographed and include sign language. Last year, the group gave 21 choral performances throughout southeastern Pennsylvania at civic and health care organizations, as well as at hospitals, retirement communities, community events and veteran facilities. As a service organization, AMERIKIDS performs voluntary service projects for senior citizen groups, homeless shelters and members of the physically and mentally disadvantaged community. Other service projects include face painting at community events, gleaning, playing bingo with seniors and working as volunteers at Project C.U.R.E. AMERIKIDS members have helped athletes at the Chester County Special Olympics, visited hospitalized veterans at the Coatesville Veterans Administration Medical Center and have collected over 300 toys and gifts for the Toys-for-Tots Program. AMERIKIDS was recognized by the organization “Friends of Our Troops as the #1 Independent Youth Group nationally participating in Mail for the Military. The group sent over 2,400 letters to servicemen and women during the holiday season. Our organization provides a wonderful opportunity for young people to give back to their community. Students will gain confidence in their performance skills, learn the qualities of true leadership and enjoy making friendships that will last through the years.
Nicole O’Rourke is in her 12th year as Musical Director of the Amerikids. She is a graduate of West Chester University, earning both her B.S. and M.S. in Music Education. While attending West Chester, she had the opportunity to work with many musical and motivational professors including Dr. James R. Wells, John Villella, Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser, Sally Albrecht, Jay Althouse and George N. Parks. She served as the chapter Vice-President and President, as well as the District level President of the music/service sorority, Tau Beta Sigma. Nicole has taught music for over 25 years, 13 of which were in the West Chester Area School District where she taught general, vocal and instrumental music along with directing the 5th grade honors chorus on numerous occasions. Nicole is married to James O’Rourke, band director at C. F. Patton Middle School, and has two children, Reaghan and Grady. In addition to directing the Amerikids, she teaches private instrumental lessons and works at U Financial Group in Kennett Square.