Feeling the anticipation swell in my chest as I turned to go on the stage, I saw the silhouettes of my family in their seats. My hard work, all the hours and effort put into my music will now be presented to an audience. Lights beamed down onto my face so that I could see my director clearly and prepare for the next moments. I heard the cacophony of the audience dwindle to a steady silence as the director called for the choir’s attention. I grazed the silk of my dress as the intensity grew and watched as Mr. Taylor’s hand led the choir through the music.
It’s been eight months since COVID-19 began, and the world has changed drastically. On October 13th, I walked to the stage, feeling the absence of my family. A mask was sealed over my mouth to keep the audience and my peers safe. As I looked over the auditorium, I saw the multiple empty seats lacking the presence of family members who could not attend due to the safety of their health. The same lights that have shone down on me the past two years now felt gloomy. My director cued us to begin, and I gave my all to the few who were there for the show.
Copper Hills choir director, Marc Taylor, is taking the precautions necessary to keep students and spectators safe during this pandemic. Other teachers are adjusting to the COVID guidelines, and Mr. Taylor tries his best to handle his high-risk classes, which, for a choral teacher, is almost every class.
Taylor sees how this year has been a spiral of emotions and stress for everyone. As for his students, he knows that they are trying to get by and deal with all of these chaotic events and their education altogether. He explains, “I could come up with an assignment and you have to do this as a make-up, but it’s an in-class thing. And I don’t feel I want to put that burden on the students in our class that have to be quarantined; it’s not their fault.”
As he continued, instead of giving his students busy work, he just lets them know and hopes that they take responsibility to go over the music on their own and listen to the provided resources to practice.
Although he wants to keep everyone safe and help minimize his students’ stress, Mr. Taylor is hopeful things will return to normal soon. The October concert had a few restrictions, including having only one person for each student attend and following the six-feet distancing guideline.
Parents and students are questioning the restrictions given, causing stress and disagreement among administration and faculty. In response to this, Glen Varga, a Copper Hills vice principal, said, “Despite our efforts to enforce it, students and parents are NOT following the social distancing guidelines as well as they should be. This could end up costing us the ability to have spectators at our events in the future.”
Furthermore, Mr. Varga explained the guidelines for the auditorium and the football stadium. “We are allowed only up to 25% capacity of the venue we are using. The total capacity of the Football Stadium, for example, is 4000 seats (1000 would be 25%). The Auditorium total capacity is 1304 (325 would be 25%). With the 184 students in the choirs, there simply aren’t enough seats to accommodate the singers AND 1 parent much less 2.”
Copper Hills faculty and administration has the school and its community’s health as the top priority. They are all hoping this virus will ease up and things will soon go back to how they were before.
UPDATE: On December 14th, Copper hills choirs are allowed two tickets per student, but only for their parents and no one else.