A Fort Scott Middle/High School Choral Music Teacher vacancy was not replaced by the USD 234 Board of Education this summer.
“Abby Helt, the choir teacher that was hired to replace Emily Elliott, withdrew in July, and there was not another teacher hired,” said Mary Jo Harper, Eugene Ware Elementary School’s Music Teacher. “They opened a position up for an after-school choir at the high school that I applied for.”
“I got the green light to begin rehearsals in October and we started on Tuesday,” Harper said. “Students in 9-12th grade are welcome to participate. We meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 PM-4:15 PM in the Choir Room at FSHS.”
“Our goal is to aid students interested in auditioning for district and state choir (virtual this year) to have that opportunity and to prepare students for the spring musical.”
“We are also striving to continue to cultivate a passion for choral music, preparing for community performances and other events that may be able to happen in the future.,” Harper said.
” During the pandemic, the science is continuously updating,” Harper said. “Our goal is to continue to follow the COVID guidelines put out by the National Association for Music Education and Kansas State High School Activities Association, meaning masked singing during rehearsals whether indoors or outdoors, limited to about 30 minutes at a time in any space, temperatures recorded, and symptom scanning.”
“Our first rehearsal was filled with folk songs to warm up and prepare for this adventure,” Harper said. “While we wait for the clearance to sing in the elementary classroom, this has been one way I get to feed my musical soul. It’s been lovely to be able to see our students continue to love singing in high school. I’m glad I get to be a part of their continued choral education!”
Fort Scott Middle School After School Choir
Jannah Farrington at Fort Scott Middle School is doing an after school choir with interested students, Harper said.
“When I was asked if I would be interested I was over the moon excited.,” Farrington said. “Special Education is my passion but music was my first love. I am a singer and began my college career as a vocal music major. I am excited to be on this journey as it lights a fire deep in my soul.”
She started with four interested students and now has up to seven.
“That number is growing as the word gets out to more and more students,” Farrington said.
“Our purpose together is to create music,” she said. “To use our musical instrument that was given to us.”
“We meet three days a week after school,” Farrington said. “That is adjusted to two days a week if we have a short week.”
“I am teaching basic skills on how to read music,” she said. ” I am also teaching them how to improve their tone, pitch ability and we are working on two-part harmony.”
They are working on a traditional and a contemporary piece of music.
“I am working on them listening to one another and singing together, building confidence, practicing hard and improving their singing skills,” she said.
She is striving to have fun in the club, during these uncertain and different times, she said.
“We are following the (pandemic) guidelines we need to and my students have adjusted well to that,” she said. ” We are not preparing for competition currently but are preparing and will host a zoom concert for their parents.”