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The Cub

The news site of Ludlow High School

The Cub

The news site of Ludlow High School

The Cub

The Slow Rebirth of the LHS Choir

The 2023/2024 Holiday Concert

A bustling auditorium, seats filled from wall to wall, quiet chatter penetrating the air. Students and parents alike anticipate the awaited arrival of tonight’s star act: The Ludlow High School Choir.  

However, since COVID-19, this scene has been altered and the virus is not the only factor to blame. Lack of funding, the school’s atmosphere, and decline in participation have all critically impaired the program.

Despite the challenges, the chorus has worked tirelessly to rebuild and adjust to their new music class realities.

2019 Choir from LHS

Before COVID-19

Prior to the pandemic, the choir had a robust class size of 37 and could easily sustain three full periods of the course a day. These classes included a standard/introductory chorus, an honors course, and a separate men’s choir. Additionally, a separate “choral” was run after school which required an audition to participate in.

Not only has COVID-19 ended lives, but it also ended passions. Graduated chorus member, Victoria Surreria (2023), explained that “there was slightly more passion among the whole group pre-pandemic, whereas after, there were people who were passionate, but the people who weren’t passionate really showed it.” 

After COVID-19

The chorus has seen many changes from its pre-pandemic days.

e class has dropped to less than half its previous size with a small group of fewer than 15 students. Moreover, there is only one period of choir scheduled a day combining both the standard and honors courses into one period while eliminating the men’s choir.  

During the 2020-2021 school year, there were virtually no specialized music courses run in the LPS school district. Those that did run were introductory or were unable to meet prior expectations due to health concerns.

The lack of musical presence in the schools led to a decrease in class size and interest in the programs making it impossible for the courses to restart at full strength. 

However, the virus is not the only cause of the condensing of the program. Following the 2020-2021 school year, the LPS school district experienced severe budget cuts from the town. The tight budget put a strain on the district resulting in some tough calls needing to be made.

Originally, the plan was to primarily shrink the music program due to the decrease in the program’s participation and the town’s reputation as a sports-oriented school district. However, the town responded to this plan as an extremely large number of people fought for the arts at the district’s next school committee meeting. As a result, the school committee decided to distribute the budget cuts more evenly across the programs of the district.  

Nevertheless, music could not fully escape the negative impact of the tight budget and the two high school music teachers, Mr. McAvoy and Mr. Henry, were chosen to travel between the High School and Harris Brook each day to teach music. The constant motion put strain on both teachers and eventually led to Mr. Henry, the high school chorus teacher at the time, leaving the district to find work at another school.

Following this, more changes were made.

Music teacher Kevin McAvoy

Mr. McAvoy was pulled out of the elementary school and became the high school’s band and chorus teacher two weeks before the class’s 2022 winter concert. McAvoy stated that adjusting to the class “was a steep learning curve” as “singing isn’t my strong suit, so it took a minute to adjust from instrumental to vocal instruction.” However, he explained that “relying on people with experience” such as upperclassmen and Teri LaFleur, a local vocal coach and recording artist, “was a huge help” in ensuring the concert was successful.

Where is the chorus now?

With the 2023-2024 school year, Mr. McAvoy has had time to adjust to teaching the class. “The challenges aren’t there like they used to be,” he expressed, as he had finally found confidence in his own voice.

McAvoy’s new level of confidence has allowed him to embrace vocal instruction and appreciate the class even more. “It’s a highlight of my day,” he said. “Everyone is so positive” creating a “great way to start the day.”

McAvoy’s enthusiasm for the chorus is equally met by the students. 

Although the single period has caused many troubling scheduling issues, the model has allowed students to better connect with each other.

A current junior in the choir, Peyton Brennan, expressed her opinion on there only being one chorus class in the school day and said she prefers the single period because “everyone’s there” adding that “I felt like I missed out freshman year because I only had four people in my class, while other classes were much larger. I didn’t meet any of the seniors until performances and though it was all the same material, it was different when it was just four people.”

Juniors Peyton Brennan (left) and Caitlyn Day (right)

The single-period model of the high school’s chorus class has not only provided unity within the ensemble but has given some members a chance to share their voices.

Freshman Celine Johnson shared her reasoning for moving to our school district: “Chorus was the sole purpose of why I came to Ludlow High School.” Celine transferred to the town’s school district from Granby because her old school did not offer music classes, and though Ludlow’s choir was small, it gave her a chance to sing.

Johnson also explained how the choir helped her adjust to the new school expressing that getting to know the upperclassmen and “hearing about their experiences” throughout the years has helped her more than anything. She explained that the friendships formed with the older students have allowed her to “know what to expect” when she becomes an upperclassman.

According to its members, the chorus has a purely positive aura and enables the growth of lasting bonds between all students involved.

As the choir looks forward to ending the school year with a music program picnic at Look Park and performing at various senior events, the group is excited for next year with projected numbers of up to 25 students, almost doubling their current size. With this, next year is shaping up to be one of the group’s strongest since 2020.


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Comments (4)

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  • K

    Kyle RodriguesJun 4, 2024 at 10:09 am

    This article was a fantastic read and really helped me learn more about a part of this school I have never interacted with.

  • M

    MeJun 3, 2024 at 12:33 pm

    OMG Caitlyn, you killed it!

  • A

    Ava AugustoJun 3, 2024 at 12:23 pm

    yay caitlyn!!!!!!!!!

  • J

    Jack FavataJun 3, 2024 at 10:08 am

    Amazing article!