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Cream of the crop choral students perform (w/video)

By Carolina Astrain
Feb. 15, 2014 at 9:02 p.m.
Updated Feb. 14, 2014 at 8:15 p.m.

Mackenzie Aguillar, 10, of Victoria, center, gives a thumbs-up at the conclusion of the VISD fifth-grade honor choir's performance at the Victoria Fine Arts Center in Victoria.

The fifth grade F.W. Gross Elementary School student clapped her hands in the air to the opening notes of "United We Sing."

Julianna Barrientes, 10, waved her arms in the air in unison with 124 other Victoria school district fifth-grade honor choir members - each chosen after being tested on his or her rhythm.

Anywhere from 10 to 15 students were chosen to be a part of the honor choir from each of the district's 17 elementary school campuses, said Ken Peach, VISD Fine Arts Director.

The fifth-grade honor choir tradition at VISD began in 2008, Peach said.

"We'll continue to put it on each year and add some more space for additional students next year," Peach said. "It's all about inclusion, not exclusion."

Howell Middle School Choral Director Crystal Dawdy snapped her fingers while directing the students' performance of a Duke Ellington and Irving Mills favorite - "It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)."

"Choral music is all physical," said Dawdy, who has been at Howell for the last 16 years. "All the kinetic movements they do with the songs helps them keep pitch."

Peach said singing in choir helps students with their math and organizational skills.

"Being a part of choir keeps them involved in their education," Peach added. "Most kids only come to school for the fine arts and athletics. ... The arts keep them connected to the school."

Jason Hernandez, a fifth-grader at DeLeon Elementary School, said he was surprised when he heard that he had made the honor choir.

"It's a been a great learning experience because you get to see how everyone sings and moves around," Jason, 10, said. "It's been a lot of fun singing with the other students."

Erminia Barrientes hugged her granddaughter, Julianna, after the show ended.

"I'm very proud of her," Barrientes, 50, said. "I'm happy that she is active in several different organizations right now. ... She tries to get involved in anything she can to help out the community."



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