Bennington County students in grades 3-12 gather to form 400-plus-member chorus

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Photo Gallery | Mass Chorus event held at Mount Anthony Union High School

BENNINGTON, VT. — More than 400 choral students from across the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union joined together on Friday for the first time ever, to perform a concert on the Mount Anthony Union High School football field.

The show featured students in grades 3 through 12, representing every town in the SVSU — Bennington, North Bennington, Pownal, Shaftsbury, and Woodford — performing for assembled parents and community members on the bleachers at the field. They performed "PROUD — A Celebration of Ourselves." The music was written by Teresa Jennings, founder of Plank Road Publishing, which publishes the Music K-8 magazine. The songs performed included "Proud," "On the Day I Was Born," "Identity," "Teach Me Well," "I'm a Citizen of This World," and a reprise of "Proud."

In between songs, groups of students would take turns narrating inspirational stories and lessons.

"Self-esteem is a problem for people of all ages," said MAUHS choral director Lynn Sweet, who conducted the performance, "but if a child can develop a good self-image early in life, there is a much greater chance for success and happiness. PROUD is a compelling musical revue that uses music to help students feel good about themselves, their lives and their heritage. The songs in this review will remain with the students and with the audience and be a strong reminder to make daily choices and decisions that will help them to be able to confidently say, 'I am proud of who I am, proud of what I am, proud of where I'm going, PROUD of what I'm doing.' "

The students only were able to rehearse together once as a group before the big show — earlier that afternoon. About 10 minutes before the show began, Sweet led them through a quick warmup to make sure everyone was ready. While the forecast earlier in the day had predicted thunderstorms, the weather held off, and the show went off without a hitch.

Sweet said donations at the show itself raised more than $530. That, plus a percentage of the proceeds from food sales, which included pizza from Ramuntos, will be distributed among the music programs at the participating schools — Bennington Elementary, Molly Stark Elementary, Monument Elementary, Pownal Elementary, Shaftsbury Elementary, Woodford Elementary, and Mount Anthony Union Middle and High Schools. The choruses also raised $4,280 prior to the event, which paid for police, custodians, t-shirts for the performers, and other logistical fees for the concert itself.

"It's so exciting to receive such tremendous support from our community," said Sweet, "I'm certain we will need to do something like this again!"

Contact Derek Carson at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.


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