“We always do a spring competition chorus trip for seventh and eighth grade, and the eighth grade is usually a little longer and we try to make it a little more special. We usually do a rotation of where we go and ... we try to do something that we can do that is either educational or historical. Something that has meaning to it other than just the competition while we’re there,” choral director Gary Lovingood said. “Last year we went to Washington, D.C., and sang on the steps of the Capitol building; the year before that we were in Tampa and sang at the Holocaust museum.”
He continued, “This year, going to Cincinnati, our goal was to see the Reds play the Braves and they’re playing each other, but not in Cincinnati — they’re playing that weekend in Atlanta. I did a search and found [the Cincinnati VA Medical Center] ... and when we’re in Cincinnati we always go to the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and have a clinic with one of their professors.
“The facility we’re going to has a rehab unit and it’s for veterans mainly [who served in] Korea or Vietnam, and part of it’s a nursing home and the other part of it is rehab for those who lost an arm or a leg. We’ll get to see some current members serving that are there for rehab and some that have served in Vietnam and Korea and probably World War II because it’s a very large facility.”
He said at the beginning of the year Principal Jeff Hogan encouraged all student groups to give back to their community. Following a recent Veterans Day assembly at the school, Lovingood said, his students became excited about the possibility of again performing for veterans.
“The kids realized after the assembly that the veterans have given a lot and suffered a lot and [our upcoming performance is] an opportunity to give back a little bit of enjoyment,” Lovingood said.
The assembly included Capt. Donna Rowe of the Army Nurse Corps, who is featured in the firm “In the Shadow of the Blade,” sharing her acclaimed story of how servicemen and women helped save the life of an orphaned child named “Baby Kathleen.”
During its trip, which will last April 24-27, the band will perform the songs of the U.S. armed forces, the National Anthem — “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “In Flanders Fields” and “God Bless America,” Lovingood said, adding the group also will perform some competition pieces.
To fund its trips, Lovingood said the chorus holds three fundraisers throughout the year, including the annual discount card sale, which will kick off the last week that school is in session before the winter holidays, beginning Dec. 23. For more information, contact Lovingood at CMS, 770-382-3666.