Rocklin High choral students find camaraderie and success

By: Lauren Weber, The Placer Herald
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Luckily, for some students, being placed in choir by accident at Rocklin High School turned out to be a positive move. Senior Joe Lopez and sophomore Nikki Young both admitted to being placed in choir by mistake, after requesting another class. Young said she was hoping for dance and landed in choir, but said “it’s now my favorite class.” Lopez said he attempted to enroll in Spanish, but was placed in choir instead. “Best mistake of my life,” he said. Both students are in Rocklin High School’s Chamber Choir, taught by Meredith Hawkins. She teaches not only Chamber Choir, but also Concert Choir and Advanced Women’s Ensemble. Chamber Choir and Women’s Ensemble are two audition groups, whereas Concert Choir is not and is mostly made up of underclassmen, Hawkins said. All three choirs recently returned from the Heritage Festival held in the Bay Area outfitted with numerous awards. Each choir came back with the Gold Award, one of the highest possible level-of-achievement awards at the festival, The Women’s Ensemble and the Chamber Choir were both invited to participate in the Elite Performance Series next year as well, giving students the possible opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall. Hawkins said it was the first time since her five years at Rocklin High that all three choirs earned the Gold Award. “I don’t think they love singing more than the other kids did,” Hawkins said. “It’s camaraderie that makes a difference.” After class on a recent afternoon, many of the choir students stayed and socialized after school was let out. But when class was in session, they were all ears, practicing and perfecting “Sleep,” a song that may be performed at their Spring Choral Concert on May 27. Connor Morgan, a junior at Rocklin High, said the song was one of his favorites, along with other contemporary songs. Morgan has been in choir for two years and currently sings in the base one section, the second lowest group for males, in the Chamber Choir. He said he initially became interested in singing through his neighbor. Now, he said he enjoys the team aspect of it. “Everyone here is doing something as a whole,” he said. More than 60 people – choir students, parents and Hawkins – crammed in a school bus to attend the Heritage Festival where they showed off their vocal skills. Each choir had a short timeframe to perform about three songs, followed by helpful advice and tips from the judges, Lopez said. Hawkins added that the choirs were judged based on strict criteria including tone, balance, interpretation and rhythm among others. With the high standards, Hawkins said the students were extremely excited to hear their names called for the awards. “The entire table full of kids jumped up,” she said. “They were super excited.” Lopez said his hands were still hurting a week later from giving his fellow classmates high-fives as congratulations. All three choirs will participate in the Spring Choral Concert, to be held at 7 p.m. on May 27 and 28 at Rocklin High School. For more information, go to the school’s Web site at Contact Lauren Weber at