North Clackamas Christian School's choir won the state championship the last four years running, from 2016-2019, and was ready and excited to defend its title this year — until the COVID-19 shutdown.
NCCS Choir Director Rebecca Steele said that virtual choir performances were the only avenue left for student champions after state officials canceled all events and championships through the end of this school year.
NCCS changed its focus from choir tour and state competition to releasing videos on YouTube. The school's spring virtual concert can be found at youtu.be/9XSSAlYv19Q. The video also includes the high school band, junior high choir and men's and women's quartets.
Initially, Steele and her students grieved the lost identity and opportunity the "golden months" of March to May regularly bring for the Excelsior choir. But lately their grief has turned to joy as Steele has seen students make themselves vulnerable in new ways.
"They dug down deep — even risking embarrassment and esteem/worth issues to get their 'best' recording — to virtually combine and allow our hearts and voices go out," Steele said. "I am so proud of these kids, and I'm really excited to see how our songs can be used to inspire and bring just a little hope and joy in this time."
NCCS Athletic Director Grant Nelson noted COVID-19 has impacted millions of young people, their coaches and parents.
"It stinks and it's not fair but at the same time we have so much to be thankful for," Nelson said. "With as rotten as this situation is, if the toughest thing these kids have to deal with is not winning or having a chance to win a title, then they are incredibly blessed."
NCCS students united virtually to sing "Nearer My God to Thee," followed by "Stand By Me" and "How Long Will I Love You."
"I am excited to see how God can use us on the virtual choir stage this year," Steele said. "I am so thankful for Kelly Bard, my choral assistant and accompanist who also did the audio mixing, and her husband's video expertise, along with these amazing young people who can make such a difference with their lives and voices."
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