When a group of singers comes together, balloons popping, water splashing, and raucous laughter aren’t the sounds listeners expect to hear.
Those sounds and more were in abundance when the Marion High School Singers select chorale started school early with a retreat Aug. 10 and 11.
The choral students met at the high school, ate dinner together, went swimming, and then returned to the performing arts center to roll out sleeping bags on the stage and spend the night watching videos and munching snacks.
“This tradition is really good in getting everybody close together and working toward the same goal, making sure that nobody feels like they’re going to be left behind once everything starts,” senior Isaac Baldwin said.
MHS vocal music teacher David Clark said the retreat is a fun way to build camaraderie among a group of talented singers who have a busy year ahead of them.
“We’re a family here,” Clark said. “This is my 39th campaign, and it’s going to be fun.”
Students audition for a spot in Singers, and students welcome the chance to be part of an elite singing group.
“It’s completely different singing with a higher-caliber choir,” senior Spencer Fugitt said. “It’s just a lot more fun. You don’t realize how hard you’re working.”
“It takes a lot to get into Singers, and once you get into it you don’t want to give it up,” senior Dylan Goebel said.
The boys will have to find extra time to practice this year because they were selected to be a featured group at the Kansas Music Educators Association conference in February.
“It’s an incredible honor,” Clark said. “I think it will showcase our kids, and we’ll put some fun things in it, too.”
The Singers perform the national anthem at district sports events, put on a popular annual Christmas show, participate in the school musical, and perform at the spring school awards ceremony, baccalaureate, and graduation.
But they are also out in the community performing throughout the year.
“We sing at Christmas programs around the community. We sing at the senior center a couple of times a year. We do a Christmas show for the chamber of commerce,” Clark said. “We go to nursing homes. We want to do more of that if we can.”
Some opportunities for public performances have decreased over the years. Invitations to perform at social clubs have declined as the number of clubs in town have dwindled.
“Whenever we get an invitation we try to go, but that’s been kind of sparse lately,” Clark said. “Times are changing, I guess, on those kinds of things.”
Performing in the annual Fesitval of Music at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, Mo. in April has become a fixture in the Singers’ schedule. They earn money for the trip by working concessions at sporting events.
The schedule is full, but Clark said he encourages his students to put family first, and works with them around conflicts.
“My program is not the only thing here, and it’s not the most important thing. Family comes above everything.”