Arts & Entertainment

MCHS choir program builds back up after year of struggle

Students in Chambers rehearsing during class (Photo: Parece Morovat, The Puma Prensa)

By: Parece Morovat, business manager and Maxine Salvador, business manager

The Maria Carrillo High School choir program is trying its best to make a comeback in participation numbers since the start of COVID. Choir took a huge hit due to the pandemic, which didn’t allow concerts to happen for around a year and a half. 

Gail Bowers, the MCHS choir teacher, shed a light on how tough it has been, explaining that part of it had to do with how kids had to stay by themselves, alone, during COVID. They then got uncomfortable with the element of teamwork and interacting with other students. 

The treasurer of the MCHS Choir Council Club, senior Gemma Ahern, who has taken choir all throughout high school, shared that “the best part about choir is the community you make while in it, but when everything went virtual, all of that was lost.” She went on to say that there was a lot less visibility for choir throughout the pandemic. As an effect, she has come across plenty of students that are not even aware of the fact that a choir program even exists at our school. 

Ahern even shared how many people at our school have preconceived notions about how good you must be at singing and how competitive you must be to be a part of a choir, even though that is not the case. 

The vice president of the MCHS Choir Council, junior Ellie Moeller, voiced her concern, saying, “A lot of people underestimate our choir” and that “people are surprised that we’re good.” 

Additionally, Ahern expressed that since RVMS recently lost their drama program and in substitute has “performing arts,” there is no longer a more singing focused feeder program that boosts kids that were involved with drama in RVMS that end up attending MCHS to want to participate in choir. Ahern considers this component crucial in explaining the drop in numbers, since choir is a key element for the musicals that were produced within the previous drama program.

Luckily, the choir program only seems to be looking up from here. Choir has been putting in a lot of effort to ensure the program recovers from the impacts of the COVID-19 lockdown and distance learning. Some of these ways include posting more on social media platforms, such as Instagram, for recruitment and reasons to join, as well as promoting the end of the year Disneyland trip for all choir groups. For example, the “mchs_choir” Instagram page posted “Frequently Asked Questions about Joining Choir and their answers” with hopes to rope new students into the program. Choir stays active on Instagram with current updates and upcoming concerts. 

Moeller also adds the choir classes boosting recruitment through the addition of Encore Arts in the past school year, a redesigning/rebrand of the Carrillo arts program, as a way to boost participation in various arts classes. T-shirts promoting Encore Arts have even been made for the arts students to provide encouragement for recruitment. In addition to recruitment acts online, choir is also trying to sing more both on and off of campus to gain more exposure. On Thursday, September 22, choir’s Chambers sang for a small ceremony celebrating the new peace pole in the quad, and on the following day, Jazz Choir sang for a fundraiser at the Sonoma County Day School. 

Choir has several on campus seasonal concert performances lined up for this school year. For those concerts, senior and president of the Choir Council, Ellie Acosta, adds the importance of half priced tickets for MCHS students attending the choir concerts “as an incentive to go, but also so that people…get to experience what we actually do.” All of choir’s pushes to recruit new students into the program helps create a stronger desire for students to join, and this school year showcases the results of the program’s efforts.

Moeller urges those wishing to join choir that it is a “stress-free,” “supportive,” and “non-judgmental” environment, while Acosta also adds that “it’s a community” where many long lasting bonds are made. Overall, Ahern, Acosta, and Moeller express their endless devotion to the program, as Ahern claims, “the choir room is my safe haven from school within school.”

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