Pickel family enhances Canebrake scholarship

Published 7:52 pm Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A scholarship has been set up through the Canebrake Players community theater in the name of longtime Canebrake actor Clark Pickel.

Pickel worked often on the Canebrake Players’ children’s productions that were performed during Christmas on the River week, making this a fitting time to make this announcement.

The Clark Pickel Canebrake Players Memorial Scholarship will go to a senior student who works with the community theater, based on the time that student puts in, and a small essay written by the candidate student.

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Diane Lavender said the Pickel family bolstered an existing scholarship through their donations.

“Clark’s parents, Buddy and Lisa Pickel, came to the board and offered to create a scholarship of a more substantial amount of money,” she said. “We have always given $300, and we increased that to $1,000 because of the Pickels.

“The reason they wanted to do that is because Clark was so instrumental in Canebrake, but Canebrake was so instrumental in Clark’s life. Clark loved the Canebrake Players. He loved theater, and the family chose that as one way to remember him and to honor him. We are thrilled and delighted to be able to team up with them and partner with them.”

“He started with the Canebrake Players when he was 9 or 10 years old,” said Clark’s mother, Lisa Pickel. “Every time there was a children’s production — until he was 17 or 18 — he wanted to be part of it. He just loved every minute of it! I believe those were the happiest times of his life, and that was what led us to memorialize him through the scholarship. We wanted to do something to give back and honor his memory.”

Pickel acted in Canebrake Players performances of “The Three Musketeers” and “The Music Man” and played the Cheshire Cat in the Christmas on the River production of “Alice in Wonderland.”

“We know what a gift it is for those children, just to be involved in that,” Lisa Pickel said. “It exposes them to a lot of people; it brings together people of many different walks of life. It also helps a child get out of their comfort zone and encourages them to do things that they wouldn’t normally do. There are so many different things they can learn about the process, about being a leader, and it is such a learning experience, even for the parents! They learn a lot about the literature as well, like ‘The Three Musketeers.’ Bringing a character to life makes it seem so much more real.”

Pickel, a 2003 graduate of Demopolis High School, died on Sept. 26, 2006, at the age of 21 in a multi-car accident on U.S. Highway 80 near the entrance to RockTenn.