Merrill High School Choir presents virtual “Dinner and a Show” fundraiser
TINA L. SCOTT
For the past three years, the Merrill High School (MHS) Choir has put on a “Dinner and a Show” concert as a way for students to sell tickets and get money put into their individual Choir accounts. They would host the event in the Commons at the High School, with students serving food and drinks and performing throughout the night, to include solos and full group performances.
“This year, because we couldn’t have the actual event in person and because of the hardship for many in the community, we decided to record the show virtually and collect donations for the Merrill Food Pantry,” MHS Choir Director Josh Olson said. More than 70 high school students make up the Concert Choir, Clara Lux, and Vocal Jayz, and all of their virtual performances are available on the Merrill Area Public Schools YouTube channel/page.
Concert Choir Section Leaders decided to donate $1,000.00 from the Choir account, and then raised another $1,162.00 from the community and other sources, for a total of $2,162.00 plus 67 pounds of food donated to the Merrill Food Pantry.
“Hopefully, this is just a reminder that even though some things in life are put on ‘hold,’ everyone can still make a difference,” Olson said. “It is also a good reminder to the members of the Choir that we can do positive things for the community, even when we can’t travel and perform in the places we are used to.”
“It has been a tough year with all of the restrictions on masking and distancing for Choir,” Olson said. “The students have responded incredibly well under difficult circumstances. If last spring (when school was shut down completely) taught us (as a Choir Department) anything, it was to appreciate every minute we have to sing together, no matter what the restrictions are. All of the students are doing surprisingly well making good sound even with masks on, and the important thing is they are improving every day. For all of our performances so far, we have had extra sound equipment to help pick up more sound because the masks do restrict the overall volume.”
Olson said there are challenges to leading a Choir in the midst of COVID restrictions, but sometimes those challenges can become opportunities.
“The most difficult things are being spaced out (because students struggle to hear each other clearly) and breathing (because masks block the flow of air),” Olson said.
“Being spaced out has actually turned into a blessing in disguise, because it means that each singer is able to build their confidence during rehearsal and feel more free to sing fully, knowing they have to fill up the six feet around them,” he added.