‘Nashville’ star returns to his Va. roots to help college fund

WASHINGTON – An Alexandria high school is getting a boost from an alum who happens to be a celebrity.

Charles “Chip” Esten, who plays Deacon Claybourne on the ABC show “Nashville,” returned to his hometown this weekend to play at a fundraiser for his alma mater T.C. Williams High School.

Esten played for the nearly 200 school supporters, family, friends and fans of “Nashville” at the May 3 fundraiser event at the Durant Center in Alexandria, Va.

“Most of the people here have had to listen to me play music over the years, so now it’s funny they were nice enough to cough-up for the charity and listen to it again,” Esten says.

All the proceeds from the event, which was $150 a ticket, benefit the Alexandria Scholarship Fund. The fund raises money for local high school students to help them afford the college.

“We’re not telling the kids that we’re going to get them into college, we’re saying if you get in, we’re going to help you get through,” says Dwight Dunton, vice chairman of the Board of Trustees for the scholarship fund.

And the financial support is not just for high school seniors. Scholarship winners can re-apply each collegiate year so they can afford to earn their bachelors degree.

During the evening’s performance, Esten played a few songs from the show, as well as some of his own music. And he had no problem admitting to the crowd that he was the class clown and a bit of a show-off during his high school days in Alexandria.

“My teachers always loved me the year after I was in their class. I’d be walking down the hall and they’d be like, ‘Chip, how are you doing?’ I’d be like, ‘What? Are you talking to me?’ When I was somebody else’s problem, we got along great,” he says.

After high school, Esten went to William and Mary where he met his college sweetheart, Patty. They were soon married and moved to L.A. His wife and three children live in California while he works in Nashville.

“It’s really exciting. It’s the role of a lifetime. It’s multiple dreams come true in as much as I get to do the music and I get to do the acting as well. We just really have a great time down there,” Esten says.

See Esten in a clip from ‘Nashville’ here:

He drove up from Nashville to perform in Alexandria and help raise money for the scholarship fund. Working with his sister Cathy Puskar, who chairs the scholarship fund board, Esten says he’s happy to help his alma mater, even though he hasn’t been back in a while.

“Man, it’s going to be hard for me because you know the high school that you grew up and out of is the one that’s in your heart and your memory. I know it’s going to be beautiful, but it’s going to be somebody else’s beautiful high school,” Esten says.

The evening raised $22,000 for the scholarship fund, according to the fund’s board of trustees.

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