A chance to shine
Music teacher Kim Deaver described the recent trip the Spindale Elementary School chorus took to Washington D.C. as exciting and awesome.
The 19-member chorus visited the area April 4-6 to sing on the National Mall during America Sings!
"It was the most awesome experience to be able to provide that for the kids," Deaver said. "Seeing their excitement to see everything they had not seen before was awesome."
America Sings! is a noncompetitive, outdoor choral festival that was founded in 1988 by John Jacobson. The non-profit organization encourages young performers to use their time and talents for community service. The chorus sang in a mass choir with up 1,400 students from around the country and alone during a special time.
Deaver decided to take her chorus on the trip after she taught them the "Star Bangled Banner." During the lesson, Deaver showed the students a picture of the original American flag and told them it was located in the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. Deaver said the students were blown away that she had visited Washington, D.C. on many occasions and after talking with her husband she decided she wanted to make the trip a reality for them.
The chorus raised $11,000 through fundraisers and donations from individuals to cover the expenses. Their original goal was $9,500 and Deaver said she was overwhelmed with the generosity from the community. The Rutherfordton Kiwanis also donated T-shirts for the students to wear during their visit.
"It was worth the work of raising money just to give them an experience of a lifetime they will never forget and allowing them to sing in that kind of environment with lots of other kids that like to sing," Deaver said. "They also did community service for others. It was all worth it."
For the community service portion, the chorus collected items to help with the Kits for Kids project. They took those items with them to Washington D.C. and all of the students that were a part of America Sings! helped to assemble the kits and made over 2,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to be given to the homeless.
"The whole mission of America Sings! was kids who sing helping to serve others," Deaver said. "That was neat to see that message with the kids."
Jacobson also gave each student that participated $25 to use to help others and make a difference. Jacobson calls it Project 25 and each of the Spindale students will decide how to use their money and then share that with Jacobson on the America Sings! website.
"It got them thinking about community service and what that really means," Deaver said. "It doesn't matter how much you are given, you always need to turn around and serve others. I think it was really cool that he (Jacobson) did that."
While in D.C. the students also got the chance to see some sites. They visited the White House, the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial. Deaver said many of the students had never traveled outside of the state and one that had never left Rutherford County.
"We had to explain to a lot of them what an escalator was. A lot of them had never seen one or ridden one and they didn't know what it was called," Deaver said. "That's something we tend to take for granted that all kids have seen and done but they hadn't."
They also saw the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. Deaver said many of the students enjoyed the ceremony.
"It was interesting because I wouldn't be able to pay attention that long," student Bryson Rhoads said. "They (guards) were so content to protect the tomb. It was like we weren't even there."
Deaver said this was a one-time special trip for her chorus because it was the 25th anniversary of America Sings!, but she hopes it's a trip they will never forget.
"It has hopefully let them know that there is a broader world out," Deaver said. "I hope it's been life changing for them because it really was for me."
And it was all because of singing.
"My favorite part of the trip was being in America Sings!," student Kimberly Alexander said. "It was a chance we all could shine."