Penfield High alum, students compose, write lyrics and perform American Heart Association anthem

 “Life is Why” music video original score by Josh Kusmierz, Penfield High School class of 2015 and sung by Penfield High School Chorale

Rochester, NY – – The American Heart Association rolled out a new messaging campaign called “Life is Why”. Inspired by the tagline, Jackie Mangione, Regional Communications Director for Rochester and Buffalo, New York, approached students from the Penfield High School Chorale and their Vocal Music Teacher, Diane Abrahamian, inviting them to interpret the meaning of “Life is Why”. Mangione was looking for a musical video that the Founders Affiliate of the American Heart Association could use to showcase its accomplishments during a virtual meeting of the entire nationwide staff of the American Heart Association.

The students ran with the challenge and created an original work-of-art. Josh Kusmierz, then a senior at Penfield High School, composed the original score and worked with a team of five others to create the lyrics. More than 70 students in the chorale group rehearsed and sang the song they created. Within a few weeks the students had an original score, with an outstanding vocal performance to back it up. Photos were added to highlight the best moments of 2015 in the Founders Affiliate.

“The students did such an outstanding job at interpreting ‘Life Is Why,’ it’s important to share their talents with others and deliver the American Heart Association’s message and mission through their eyes,” Mangione said.

“Life is Why” is the emphatic, concise answer to the question of why the American Heart Association does what it does, every day. It wants people to experience more of life’s precious moments and to live healthier, longer lives. Life Is Why the American Heart Association is committed to making a healthier, longer life possible for everyone.

“‘Life is Why’ is a very strong thematic statement that can and does touch every heart in some way,” Kusmierz, said. “Everyone has a reason to live. The writing of ‘Life Is Why’ for the Penfield High School Chorale – and specifically for the American Heart Association – is a reflection of something universally special. It is the power of giving.”

The Penfield Central School District is a regular supporter of the American Heart Association. The Penfield High School Chorale has sung the National Anthem at the Rochester Heart Walk in past years, the faculty and staff participate in Go Red For Women and Elementary Schools have implemented Jump Rope For Heart into their physical education classes.

“’Jump Rope For Heart’ brings the entire school together to promote healthy choices, healthy hearts, exercise and nutrition, while at the same time having a lot of fun,” Lisa Allen, Penfield Cobbles Elementary School Jump Rope for Heart coordinator and reading teacher said.

Diane Abrahamian, Penfield’s vocal music teacher, couldn’t be prouder of her students. “They poured their hearts into this project,” Abrahamian said. “Without music, we would have no voice for our deepest emotions.”

The “Life Is Why” video can be viewed at

*Penfield HS Chorale:

2015 Penfield High School Chorale Group:   Deja Baxter – Ariana Bell – Tessa Berardi – Haley Bertrand – Adah Brophy – Lillian Caccavale – Damian Campana – Louisa Campbell – Olivia Campbell – Erica Cappellino – Niko Chatteron – Eriketa Cost – Abby Coughlin – Leah  Creathorn – Sally Curran – Connor Curry -Colleen Doherty – Margaret Drake – Julia Esse – Wendy Evans – Carina Fess – Marissa Fess – Abby Frank – Andre Gardner – Emily Hall – Kristen Hall – Emily Hanrahan – Emily Harnischfeger – Catherine Healey – Noah Henwood – Rae Hermans – Natalia Hulse – Mady Huston – Mia Jacobson – Patrick Jones – Emma Kurz – Joshua Kusmierz – Nick Lahue – Stephen Lapointe – Grayson Marcus – Kassie  – astrolonardo – Sarah Mayfield – Gates McMahon – Michael Motkowski – Tanya Nasra – Shannon Ogden – Talya Parker – Bronwen Pelish – Tess Perry – Kylie Platania – Amanda Plato – Eileah Pye –  Carly Raspante – Jake Rider  – Samantha Rock – Zoe Sanders – Daniel Siglin – Jennifer Straube – Samantha Streff – Katie Summerson – Hunter Tedrow – Matthew Thurston – Alexis Tuccio – Emily VanBortel – Frank Vella – Brandon Ventura – Megan Vercruysse – Erin Walsh – Jade Warner – Seth Williams

AHALIWPHSVideoGroupPhoto   photo 3 photo 2 photo 1

*Video credit: The video was produced by videographer Boris Sapozhnikov and Editor John Graney. The video was directed and produced by Jackie Mangione, Regional Communications Director Rochester & Buffalo, New York.

*Penfield Cobbles Elementary Jump Rope For Heart Teachers from left to right:

Lisa Allen (in the heart costume), Jane Rotshfuss, Ann McCarthy, Sarah Welsh, Linda Aloi



About the Rochester American Heart Association 

The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – America’s No. 1 and No. 3 killers in Rochester. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved with the Rochester affiliate, call 1-585-371-3112, visit the local Rochester website

About Penfield High School

Penfield High School, located in a residential suburb of Rochester, NY, offers a comprehensive curriculum for students in grades 9-12. In addition to traditional core subjects, students can choose from a wide variety of Advanced Placement offerings for college credit, as well as numerous electives in arts, music, engineering, business and more. Vocational and alternative educational experiences are also made available to students. A highly skilled staff works to create a warm and welcoming environment for all students and actively encourages the involvement of parents in their children’s education.

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