RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. -- Joyce Pitchford said her high school choir students feel like the "Landau of Ravenswood."
"If he can do it, then so can we," the musical director of 38 years at the school said Friday.
Pitchford's choral students are competing in the "Glee Give A Note" campaign for a chance to win some cash to help their choral program. The creator and producers of "Glee" -- a Fox TV comedy that follows the lives of students in a high school glee club in Ohio -- and the National Association for Music Education sponsored the contest for struggling music programs all across the country.
Winners in five regions will split $1 million in prize money. Each region will have 12 winners of $10,000 and two winners of $25,000, in addition to three national winners of $50,000.
Ravenswood and Bridgeport high schools, the only two West Virginia schools in the contest, are competing in Region 4, which includes schools as far away as Alabama and Florida.
As of Friday evening, Ravenswood High School had the fifth-most votes in the country out of nearly 400 entries, with 22,330 votes cast in its favor -- something Pitchford says is amazing for a school that almost didn't make the entry deadline.
"I didn't even know about the competition," she said with a laugh. The students heard about it from a parent and put together an entry video the weekend before it was due.
"We just made it."
Arts and music programs have been on the chopping block for many schools around the country in recent years, a situation made worse by the recent economic downturn.
Although Pitchford said the music program at Ravenswood has not had any cuts yet, she said it's a real possibility.
"Our budget this year is almost $30,000, and that is just with music and travel," she said. "It's hard to come up with that kind of money."
If the school advances to the "Glee Give A Note" finals, any prize money could mean breathing new life into the program.
Pitchford said the money would be used to replace worn-out items the team has been using since as far back as the 1980s, including sound equipment, musical arrangements, lighting and performance outfits.
"Money is really tight around Ravenswood because of the [Century Aluminum] plant shutting down. The economy is just awful and I just think it would take a huge burden off the families and the kids in the choir to let us enjoy it instead of worrying about . . . the funds for new microphones, new outfits even," said junior Andrew Ely. "I mean we've used the same outfits for 25 years.
"It's just getting to the point where it shouldn't be like it is. And it's simply because of money. That's the only reason."
Money for the choral programs is part of the school budget -- something Ely said makes the Ravenswood program unique.