“My children breathe it, eat it, live it (the school music program)….at the dinner table, it’s all we talk about. I never thought my kids could be so passionate about something.” — Mary McVicar, Chantilly High School Choral Booster Vice President.
McVicar says this year there are new challenges to the Chantilly (Va.) High School arts program. A move to create a Virginia state wide mandatory economics and finance class will reduce time for elective classes like music. Parents are emailing the school, sending letters and voicing their opinions that while they appreciate the need to teach children about finance, they don’t want to reduce or lose music and the arts.
Parents are willing to speak up for the program because they see how much the music program benefits their children.
The Chantilly Choral program is one that students seek out, and alumni remember and celebrate. Glenn Cockrell has been in a directorial role since 1987 and is currently the senior member of the choral music staff at Chantilly. Cockrell and co-director Sarah Pramstaller have created a program with high standards for participation. McVicar say there is “zero tolerance” for bad behavior or trouble.
McVicar says: “I’m thankful the music program keeps the kids out of trouble. This is the age where teens are exposed to a lot of different influences, and not all are positive. The program is demanding and requires a high focus; the students have to be able to give their all.” McVicar says she’s even heard students self-monitor their activities; they know unacceptable behavior will have repercussions in terms of their participation in the choir program.
McVicar credits Cockrell and Pramstaller’s values, passion and commitment for the success of the program, and for the enthusiasm of the students. Their dedication to the students makes it easy for parents to support “America’s favorite Show Choir” .
–Sue Rarus, January 26, 2011, © National Association for Music Education