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Draper Journal

Draper Elementary choir hits a high note with community

Nov 15, 2017 08:00AM ● By Julie Slama

Draper Elementary’s choir practices in the weeks leading up to performing for Draper City’s Veterans Day and tree-lighting ceremonies. (Alex Campbell/Draper Elementary) — Christina Van Dam email 11/2

Draper Elementary students have been practicing “Freedom Isn’t Free” since the second week of school in preparation for Draper City’s annual Veterans Day program.

But rehearsing isn’t the only part, said fifth-grade teacher Christina Van Dam, who co-directs the choir with second-grade teacher Madison Ellingson.

“We want our students to know what it means to serve in wars, in the armed forces, and to thank those who have served or are serving our country,” she said. “We want them to realize the sacrifice they’ve made or are making and install a deeper citizenship of our country.”

In addition to “Freedom Isn’t Free,” the students sang the national anthem and “Proud to Be an American.”

The Draper students also invited people they know who have or are currently serving in the military to the ceremony, including Draper Elementary’s Principal Christie Waddell’s two sons.

However, the students weren’t just preparing patriotic songs. They also were scheduled to perform “Holiday Lights” and “Merry Christmas Happy Holidays” in Draper City’s tree-lighting ceremony Nov. 27 and about 10 fun holiday songs such as songs from “The Polar Express” and Glee’s “Deck the Rooftop” at Festival of the Trees in Sandy on Dec. 2.

This is in addition to the choir’s performance on Monday, Dec. 11 at 6 p.m. with the school orchestra that will be held at Draper Park Middle School, 13133 South 1300 East.

“I like to give students the opportunity to see what it’s like to be in the community and perform for people in different venues,” Van Dam said. “They’re excited to go and the people are really happy to have us perform. We often have families attend these community events and support our kids.”

Through these experiences students also learn to perform outside of the piano accompaniment played by fourth-grade teacher Lachelle Crandell, singing either a cappella or with a CD. 

The 90-member choir is comprised of second- through fifth-grade students who practice for an hour two mornings each week before school. Van Dam said the students learn the songs line by line and often listen to them on CD to feel the rhythm and tempo. The dance and action movements are added to make it fun for the students, she said.

Many of these students also are those who are involved in the 30-minute school musical, which has been put on every spring for the past four years.

Last year, the students put on “100 Years Snooze,” a take off of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.”

“We make sure there are lots of speaking parts and solos. Students have to audition, but we make sure everyone who wants to be involved has a part,” she said.

Before then, the choir students are gaining experiences and memories this fall and winter, Van Dam said.

“They’re excited and building confidence,” she said. “At the same time, they’re learning to be active members of their community, honor those who have done so much for our country and share in the holidays.”