The North Point High School Chamber Choir is a family. A group of 27 brothers and sisters who give each other a hard time only to hug seconds later. When one beelines for the piano, the others shout out requests. When another is overcome with hiccups, the cures — some helpful, some bizarre — zip around the choir room.
Led by choral teacher Kristin Helming, the chamber choir is made up of the elite singers of the school, those who take music seriously. They’re the ones who practice during lunch, after school, in the hallways between classes, at church, at home and in the shower.
The dedication has paid off. The mixed advanced choir made up of male and female voices will perform March 1 on the Millennium Stage at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., in celebration of Music in Our Schools Month.
The invitation to perform is validation. “We are good enough to perform on a stage where a lot of amazing performers have stood,” said senior Arianna Howard, who has been involved in North Point’s choir program starting with the basic women’s chorus before advancing to Eagles in Harmony, the school’s advanced women’s choir, and the chamber choir.
“They’re getting North Point out of Charles County and onto a big stage,” Helming said. “They are like ambassadors for Southern Maryland.”
Music in Our Schools Month was founded in 1973 and is led by the National Association for Music Education, music teachers and students around the country. The month spotlights music education programs in schools while advocating for the arts through performances, lessons and activities.
Helming directs several choirs at the school and all have something special. “I get kids from all different walks of life,” she said. “Band, athletes, theater kids. [Choir] is the ‘thing’ they do.”
Junior Brandon Powell joined the chamber choir last year. After seeing the group perform while he was in middle school, Powell knew he wanted to be a part of it. “I fell in love with the North Point choir as a whole,” he said. “I sprang at the chance to join.”
Joey Foote, a senior, said had to get over the idea that being in choir may not be the “cool” thing to do. He liked to sing, but by the time he was in high school, he had to think about some things regarding his social status. By the time he was a junior, he was over all that. He was ready to do something he knew he loved and was good at. What he found was much more. “We’re a family,” Foote said.
“They take care of each other, they push each other,” Helming said. “The music we perform together soothes their soul, it soothes my soul.”
“Not everyone can jump high and dunk a ball, not everyone can draw. Some people are good at math, some people are good at singing,” AuJour Washington, a senior, said. “Everyone has to find joy. I find it in singing.”
The show, featuring choirs from other metropolitan-area schools, is free and open to the public, with no tickets required. It will also be streamed live on at www.kennedy-center.org.
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,400 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.