Nordonia High School choir students travel to NYC

by Nicole Rosselot

This spring, students in Nordonia High School’s choral program traveled from “The Heart of it All” to “The Big Apple” to experience a little bit of everything New York City has to offer, including vocal workshops, sightseeing and selfies with Broadway stars.

John Pickering, director of choral activities at NHS and music coordinator for the Nordonia Hills City School District, took a group of 30 students and five chaperones on a four-day trip at the end of March.

On their way to NYC, the group stopped for an overnight visit to Pennsylvania State University, where the students attended a workshop with Dr. Christopher Kiver, director of choral activities. According to Pickering, the workshop included lessons in general vocal techniques and provided students the opportunity to experience a college-level choral program.

“I view my job as preparing students for what the next step looks like,” Pickering said. “When they leave the choral program at NHS, they may be [continuing on with their] music, and often the next step is a collegiate setting. … So my rehearsals and preparation are not far off from what they can expect in a college choral setting.”

The students arrived in New York City the following day and attended a workshop with actor Thayne Jasperson, who is currently performing in the Broadway show “Hamilton.”

“He is a major talent and he actually taught the students a cut from ‘Hamilton,’” Pickering said. After working with the group on vocal performance, “they had Q&A time with [Jasperson] and he talked about what it’s like to be on Broadway and to live in NYC as a performer.”

The students’ Broadway experience also included seeing two shows, “MJ: The Musical,” based on the life of pop star Michael Jackson, and “The Outsiders,” adapted from the novel by S.E. Hinton and the film by Francis Ford Coppola.

“‘MJ’ is probably the best thing on Broadway right now,” Pickering said. “For many of the kids, this was their first time [visiting] NYC and seeing a Broadway musical, so it was really fun for them.”

The excitement continued for the students when they happened to meet several of the actors starring in “The Outsiders” after the show. “We were getting ready to board the bus and a bunch of the actors came out the side door,” Pickering explained. “They all got autographs and selfies with the actors, it was great.”

In addition to the theater scene, the NHS students enjoyed sightseeing in Manhattan and Brooklyn. According to Pickering, the group took the subway into Brooklyn, and then walked back over the iconic Brooklyn Bridge into the financial district, where they visited the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. The students also enjoyed a dinner/dance cruise around the Statue of Liberty as well as a visit to Radio City Musical Hall, where they met one of the Rockettes.

According to Pickering, meeting professional performers and seeing the Broadway shows was the most meaningful part of the trip for his students. “I think seeing what they do at Nordonia High School and then seeing [musical theater] performed at such a high level was really inspiring to them.” ∞

Photo: NHS choir students enjoyed views of the city while walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo submitted.