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A choral spectacular

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SING IT LOUD: The McCulloch Junior High School Seventh Grade Choir perform at Walton Performing Arts Center on Friday. The group is led by Choir Director Christina Huff.
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TAKING ON THE STAGE: The Marion High School Marionettes perform pop songs at the Walton Performing Arts Center on Friday. The Marionettes are in their first season of performing.

By Clay Winowiecki - cwinowiecki@chronicle-tribune.com

The Marion High School and McCulloch Junior High School choirs held a joint concert on Friday.

The concert featured hundreds of students across seven school groups who sang an array of music from pop tunes to foreign language songs. The choir concert took place at the Walton Performing Arts Center and was to the public.

“It’s something we do every spring semester,” said McCulloch Choir Director Christina Huff. “One of the purposes is to showcase what our choral programs from grade seven through 12 have to offer at Marion Community Schools.”

The performance also served as an opportunity to give junior high students a chance to perform contest music before this weekend’s performance at the Indiana State School Music Association (ISSMA) Junior/Middle/Elementary Organization Festival in Elwood.

“If we get gold ratings this weekend that will guarantee us to receive our fifth All-Music Award from ISSMA (in a row),” Huff added. “This is the last check mark to that process. We’re the only school in the state to have done that.”

Before the concert began, MHS Superintendent Brad Lindsay touted the success of the music programs.

“We’ve got the best students in the state of Indiana,” Lindsay said. “We’ve got the best families, the best teachers and the best principals.

“We love our music program,” he added.

The seventh and eighth graders both performed three songs they will be singing at today’s contest. The two grades also sang one song together for the fun of singing as one big group.

The high school opened with the MHS Marionettes, who were adorned with sparkling dresses, and sang pop songs by artists such as Mariah Carey and Jessie J.

According to MHS Choir Director Bryce Conway, this is the Marionettes first year in existence.

“We competed this year at the Huntington North and at the Northridge competitions, and the ladies did really well,” Conway said. “I’m really proud of them. Two of them won Best Performer awards.”

Following the Marionettes were the Concert and Chamber Choirs, the 26th St. Innovations and MHS Virtuoso.

At the end, all students across the grades took to the stage to sing the song “I Sing Because I’m Happy.”

Another purpose for the joint choir is to allow Conway to show junior high school students what the high school choir program has the offer when those students reach the ninth grade.

According to Huff, choir serves as an important way for students to learn life skills.

“They just had the opportunity to go to the state house. One student said choir helps them to not only get through the school day, but it helps them learn how to focus, be more disciplined, be more responsible and more organized,” Huff said. “This doesn’t just help them in school, but those are (life) skills.”

One of the next upcoming concerts is “Sing on the Green” on May 11 at 7 p.m. at the high school. On May 13 the seventh graders have a spring concert, followed by a concert by the eighth graders on May 14. Both concerts take place at McCulloch Junior High School at 6 p.m. on their respective days.

“I am really appreciative that Marion Community Schools and our administration really values (choir) and encourages our students to be involved in music,” Huff added.