heather-macdonaldby Heather MacDonald
Volunteer & Community Engagement Director

The mission of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy. The ACDA hosted their 2015 National Conference in Salt Lake City which provided a unique opportunity for two UWSL Community Schools to experience performances, coaching, and student interaction with two of the visiting choirs.

Almost 300 choirs auditioned for the opportunity to perform at the Mormon Tabernacle and Abravanel Hall during the conference, and only 22 were selected. From that select group of top performers, Baylor University from Waco, TX and Waukee High School from Waukee, IA were given the opportunity to volunteer as part of their conference experience.

Through the planning process, the ACDA was clear they wanted an opportunity for the visiting choirs to not just perform but to be able to interact with students and offer their expertise. Granite Park Junior High students started out by participating in icebreaker activities led by the Waukee High School students. During their time they also shared lunch, performed for each other, and were treated to a clinic where they learned performance tips and how they could better work together to be a cohesive choir.

IMG_8204“My kids TRULY enjoyed every moment of this experience and it was a highlight of our Salt Lake City experience. I think every conference should have a component that resembles this as it was educational, fun, and incredibly rewarding to work together–confirming that music is a powerful tool that brings people together in unexpected ways.” – Amy Hall, Waukee High School Director of Vocal Music

“The ACDA experience with Amy Hall and the Waukee High School choir was incredible for the students at Granite Park Junior High. The faces of my students said it all. Many of my students have never had the opportunity to see such a high-quality choir performance. It was also incredible for my students to get feedback on their singing from Mrs. Hall. It was an experience that truly inspired my students and one that they, and I, will never forget.” – Melissa Drake, Granite Park Jr. High Choir Teacher

Kearns High School partnered with Jefferson Junior High to share their choir experience with both Kearns High and Jefferson students. The Baylor University choir, directed by Alan Raines, provided an engaging musical performance, participated in some activities with the Kearns and Jefferson students, and shared the message that college is important.

IMG_8195“I think that Alan’s and the choir’s enthusiasm and very approachable manners made the assembly not only an inspirational showcase of college-level talent; but it also sent what I felt was a very clear message to the students that “college is a great place to go…you will have amazing experiences and opportunities if you go.” That message is so powerful with our students here in Kearns where only 68% of Kearns High School students graduate on time.” – Steve Whatcott, Kearns High UWSL Community School Director

Through the power of volunteers, students were able to be inspired, have fun, and learn together.

It’s not too late to get involved in volunteering to support a UWSL Community School or Center through the final months of the school year. Volunteers are still needed to read with elementary aged students, help with end of year test prep, and to act as a positive adult role model by being a mentor. If you can share one hour, once a week, with a student contact Stephanie Rokich at StephanieR@uw.org or 801.746.2566 or visit uw.org/read for more information.