By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Comeback chorus
Class returns for SEB 8th graders
SEB Middle chorus for Web
Southeast Bulloch High School chorus teacher Brent Whitaker leads a class of eighth graders from the middle school through a vocal workout Wednesday at the high school. Whitaker is trying re-establish a chorus program at SEB Middle. - photo by JAMES HEALY/staff

      After being lost to budget cuts and shifting priorities, the chorus program at Southeast Bulloch Middle School is in the process of making a comeback.
      After Brent Whitaker, the Southeast Bulloch High chorus director and head of the fine arts department agreed to take on the extra class, high school principal Dr. Trey Robertson and middle school principal Donna Clifton worked with Dr. Lewis Holloway, school superintendent to restore the middle school chorus program in time for the spring semester.
      "I am so glad Brent has found a way to help the incoming ninth-graders develop their voices before they arrive," he said. "Having to teach basic skills once they got to ninth grade was proving to be a real problem for him."
      Clifton agreed, saying "I'm really excited that our eighth-grade chorus students are getting this opportunity now, as it makes them much better prepared for the chorus when they move up to ninth-grade."
      So, each day about 11 a.m., Whitaker walks across the high school parking lot and leads the group of 32 students from the middle school into the chorus room of the high school.
      One of his eighth graders is Mary Flott. She said: "My whole family loves music, and we sing all the time at home. During the holidays we all sing at our church.
      "I really like Mr. Whitaker. All the kids do. He's so much fun to be around, but he's also real serious about getting the job done. I'm really excited about being given an opportunity to get this head-start."
      Whitaker said the large number of students that signed up showed they understood how the eighth-grade chorus class might very well prepare them for "Advanced Chorus," and allow them to bypass "Beginner Chorus."
      About three-quarters of the class are girls, but Whitaker said that his high school choruses have almost an equal number of girls and boys.
      Each class starts with Whitaker's time-tested regimen of vocal practice. First, the students stretch, then they do deep-breathing exercises and then they go through a series of vocal warm-ups.
      "I am testing each student to learn the vocal range they have," he said. "This will allow me to place them in the correct section of the chorus. Then, we will get serious.
      "My long-term goals are to actually have this group sing with either (or both) Joey Mitchell's middle school band or my ninth-grade chorus in the end-of-the-year concerts. Nothing has been determined, but I'm beginning to think of the possibilities.

Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter