Students from the Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools sing March 18 at the All-District Chorus Concert at Minges Auditorium at N.C. Wesleyan College.
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Students from the Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools sing March 18 at the All-District Chorus Concert at Minges Auditorium at N.C. Wesleyan College.

Elementary Chorus students bond with peers

From Contributed Reports

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Ninety-six student vocalists representing each of the Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools elementary schools took the stage March 18 in the Minges Auditorium at N.C. Wesleyan College’s Dunn Center to present the Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools All-District Chorus Concert.

Musical selections such as “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” “Go the Distance” (from Disney’s Hercules) “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel” (Spiritual) and “We Believe in Music” were part of the program, under the direction of guest conductor Patsy Gilliland, with Tar River Children’s Chorus.

“I believe the entire experience was a monumental imprint on the hearts of my students,” said Orlandus Perry, music teacher at Benvenue Elementary School.

“Hard work, focus, respect for their craft, and an opportunity to express it in the presence of those who love them are essential and irreplaceable. This is what those students were privileged to encounter and they will never forget it, especially those who will mature into world class performers or evolutionary music teachers and professors.”

Students auditioned at their individual schools several months ago and immediately began learning the music in preparation for the concert.

“When my teacher chose me to sing in front of everyone, I saw a future of me singing when I get older,” said Perla Morales, fifth-grade student at Coopers Elementary School.

Isabella Wooten, a fifth-grade student at Bailey Elementary, said she will always remember the event because after numerous hours of practicing, the final sound was “beautiful and rewarding.”

“I enjoyed meeting all the students and working with Mrs. Gilliland.” Wooten said. “I liked blending my voice with students around the county.”

This unique experience brought students from all over the district together for the first time early on the morning of the concert for an all-day practice session before taking the stage to perform later that evening.

“While I was watching all of the children singing together on stage, what struck me as a parent and teacher was that in our busy lives, we sometimes forget the power that music can have to teach and to unite,” said Britt Myers, an Englewood Elementary school parent.

“The children learned songs from many different genres and I loved seeing the music teachers up on stage singing with the kids in the final number. It was a true collaborative effort.”

Marlene Camacho, music teacher at Swift Creek Elementary, was also impressed by how students from different schools interacted with one another.

“It was great to see the students unify,” Camacho said. “My last year’s students from D.S. Johnson chose to eat lunch with my present students at Swift Creek.

“You would have thought they had already known each other by their conversations.”

Penny Gardner, music teacher at Bailey, said, “As a teacher, I was awed by the blending of sounds produced throughout the day. Music seems to bring us all together for a unified end result that is not only musically beautiful, but a constant display of skills, talents, leadership, and the desire of many to work as a team striving for a common end goal.”

Fine Arts Coordinator Laura Parrott for the school system, said the final number of the evening captured the essence of the importance of music and fine arts in bringing students together.

“One of the selections the students sang began with a soloist singing ‘One small voice can teach the world a song’” Parrott said. “As the song continued, another student stepped forward and joined in, then eight more students, and finally all of the students. I believe it was then that the power of this special event began to emerge. The students arrived that morning as 14 very separate groups and throughout the day, their unity grew stronger as they became one voice, teaching all of us the beauty of diversity and acceptance.”

A video of the All-District Elementary Chorus performance is now available for public viewing on the Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools website, www.nrms.k12.nc.us.