Secondary students sing together at district choir festival

More than 400 secondary choir members packed the Harrison Prep gym recently for the district’s choir festival. Each school choir performed on its own and then they came together to perform in beginning and advanced groups at the middle and high school levels. 

The festival concluded with all students performing a single song together. 

“It’s a chance for choir students from each school to come together for one day of learning and sharing,” said Harrison Prep choir director Ryan Harris, who also emceed the event. “Students can hear their peers doing something else well and then grow in new ways.”  

The district choir festival has taken place for each of the last 13 years. It originally started when Hudtloff choir director Cynthia Bettes and Mann choir director Rich Johnson were performing together in a production of Fiddler on the Roof at the Lakewood Playhouse. 

“This was before professional learning communities, so we didn’t really talk to each other,” Bettes said.  “Since the play gave us the opportunity to talk, we decided we wanted to do something for our choir kids at the district level.” 

Thus, the choir festival was born. Originally, it was an evening event in front of a big crowd, but the inability of some students to make it led to it shifting to a daytime activity. 

“Music isn’t competitive, it’s collaborative, and we wanted to increase that collaboration,” Bettes said. “It is an opportunity for us to share what we are doing in our programs with a wider audience.”

Choir Director directing the students