COOLIDGE — Few teachers can say that they’ve developed an award-winning music program, and even fewer can lay claim to a multi-award-winning program.
But the dream came true for the Imagine Coolidge Elementary choir and drum corp programs in the place where dreams often do come true.
On May 26, both music programs — headed by Program Director Chris Steward — received award recognitions for their performances during the WorldStrides Onstage Festival held in Anaheim.
The school’s drum corp took home gold, while the Imagine Singing Eagles choir was awarded silver.
Although students are provided with the opportunity to spend three days in Disneyland as part of the trip, the competition requires a lot of work. Gearing up to perform at the festival is a year-long commitment, Steward said.
Including rehearsals, in-class practice and time some may dedicate to practicing at home, students spend countless hours fine-tuning their performances.
Yet, the conditions rarely faze participants, with some students even daring to participate and perform in both programs.
Students sang and played music before adjudicators, parents and other attending schools at Fullerton College, where they were judged on their collective performance.
But beyond judging the performances, adjudicators also provided insight on how the groups could refine their acts.
This is the third year in a row both programs have participated in the festival. Last year, the Singing Eagles and the drum corp ensemble were also awarded silver and gold for their respective performances.
For students who have been part of the drum corp or choir for the past three years, Steward said he has seen significant growth in their character.
“Their self-esteem is boosted by participating,” he said. “Whether or not they’re singing solos or they’re just part of the general group, their self-esteem is boosted because they’re able to do it.”
The shift in confidence is one that also trickles down into other academic areas, according to leaders at the elementary school.
“One of the reasons why we support the fine arts is that so much of what they learn through (the arts) translates to academics,” said Assistant Principal Erik Collins. “Focus, attention, hard work and dedication — all of that can translate perfectly into reading, writing and math.”
The music program is one the school has managed to grow over the years, with more students expressing interest in taking part each year. During the 2019-20 school year, Steward indicated that he intends to tag team with Imagine Prep to further expand the music program with the hopes of creating a more seamless transition in music education for students transitioning over to the prep.