Two years ago, Michelle Searle, the choir director at Seneca Valley High School, received an invitation to bring students to Hawaii to perform at a concert commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor.
Several bake sales, candy sales, BooGrams and two-hour daily practice sessions later, Searle and 32 choir members were on their way to Hawaii.
On Sunday, SVHS singers embarked on the 13-hour trip to Hawaii to perform at a concert in remembrance of the Pearl Harbor attacks. The students perform today at the Waikiki Shell, said Seneca Valley High School Principal Marc Cohen.
Patch caught up with the choir during the final rehearsal at the school.
“I am just excited about going down to Hawaii because as a high schooler you don’t often get this kind of an opportunity,” said Sarah Chmielowiec, a SVHS senior and the assistant choir director.
Choir membership was open to students who sang with any of Seneca Valley’s choirs, said Searle. But getting all the voices needed to sing “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “Amazing Grace” or any other of the seven songs they are performing in Hawaii was a challenge, Searle said, because there were only three male students in the group.
Searle said she has no problem with taking her students across several time zones. She has taken other students to Europe for performances and she says this trip is not any different because she wants to share her love of travel and music with her students.
“If I can influence them to be interested in something that would not have otherwise appeared interesting to them, I think that is what teaching is all about,” she said.
But for Searle, this trip has a personal connection — honoring the memories of her grandparents who served in the war.
“I can’t believe we are doing this,” Searle said, fanning her face with her fingers and fighting back tears. “It is such on honor.”