The Athlos Leadership Academy-Austin choir stole the show during the Texas Charter School Athletic and Academic League Fine Arts Festival on Saturday, April 7. They walked away from the festival, which features competitions in photography, painting, sculpture, solo voice, acting, choir, and more, with three awards.
“The kids were pretty nervous at first, but showed poise and confidence,” said Stephanie Nesseth, director of jazz band and musical theatre at Athlos-Austin. “After we won, they were giddy all day. In fact, they’re still super-excited even four days later!”
Athlos Leadership Academy-Austin took home the following awards:
- First Place State Chapions- Middle School Large Choir
- First Place State Champion-High School Solo Voice
- Third Place- Middle School Solo Piano
Thirty Athlos students participated, 28 in the choir competition, one in the vocal solo competition, and one in piano solo competition. More than 350 students participated statewide.
“I chose some fairly difficult music for young singers and even though it was tough, they all rose to the challenge with enthusiasm and grace,” Nesseth said.
Leading up to the competition, the students prepared, practiced, rehearsed, and supported one another. They took home their music to practice, they practiced together outside of class, and they encouraged each other when they were feeling down. The soloists and drama students performed for each other every Friday before the competition and provided feedback.
“They are truly the most hard-working group of young people I’ve ever worked with,” Nesseth said. “They are gifted musicians and genuinely kind, caring kids. They really treat their group like a team and encourage one another. As one of them said, it’s like a big family.”
This year, Athlos-Austin offered four music classes to middle and high school students, with a total of 54 students in the music program. The school is planning a band and choir night for new students and incoming sixth-grade students so they can talk to current musicians, try out instruments, and get an idea of what it’s like to be in band and choir. Nesseth hopes to increase participation in music next year to 70 students.
Hear it from The Athlos Achievers
What was your favorite part of the competition?
“Traveling to the competition and right after the announcement after we won. Everyone was so excited and happy and the energy we had was so positive.” – Gabi Venegas-Tutor and Jayda Roberts
Why do you love being a part of the Athlos choir?
“We love the experiences, games, learning new songs; it’s challenging but we love the challenge; we love that we can see how we’ve gotten better at singing since the beginning of the year and we love Ms. Nesseth. – Nya Mackey, Mikayla Rivers, Taylor Northrop.
What do you love most about your school?
“Choir and band classes, great friends, great experiences. It’s small and people are nice, less bullying than in public school, athletics, having advisory period, and great teachers.” – Rilyn Paquette, Rebekah Ulysse, and Maddie Miles
A Note from Nesseth on the Importance of Fine Arts in School
“Aside from the scientific research that has proven music education changes the structures in the brain and helps increase performance in math and science, music and art’s merits stand on their own.
Music, art and drama have been part of the human experience for thousands of years. These pursuits bring us joy as both spectators and participants. They help us express ourselves when words fail. They comfort us in times of sorrow and help us celebrate.
These are universal languages and are integral parts of our daily lives. Children and adults who study music use grit and perseverance every day. When they play with other people, they must use social intelligence and self-control to cooperate and achieve the goals of the group. They learn how and when to be leaders and how to best support those who are leading.
Even if children don’t intend to be the next Beethoven or Monet, they still benefit greatly from learning to play an instrument and from learning how to paint. Being educated in the arts means being a well-rounded citizen of the world.”