Putting together this commissioned piece has been a gift to all involved and it is our hope that it is received with the intention of our hearts... to simply share the contagious joy of accepting one another and simply being kind!
Here is how it all went down:
April 2019: Robyn Starks Holcomb reached out to Kyle Pederson about an idea for another collaborative idea that was kiboshed before he even had a chance to answer - but in the connection, they agreed to collaborate together on a commission for the ACDA conference, if selected.
May 2019: Robyn sends this email to Kyle and the idea comes to life with his response.
August 2019: The decision is made to include the choir in the crafting of the lyrics, centering around the inclusive culture of Roosevelt and the school motto, We are Roosevelt ~ We Are One. This is how the students shared their thoughts.
Robyn also emails a team of Roosevelt administrators, teachers and advisors gathering support for the project and putting feelers out about the invited guest singers.
September 2019: Kyle sends Draft #1 to Robyn. Oh boy!
October 2019: Kyle's shared Draft #2 on time for his first visit to work with Roosevelt Concert Choir on the collaboration. Students offer additional lyric ideas and structure ideas over two days of collaborative rehearsals.
November 2019: Kyle's second visit to Roosevelt.
In visiting with parents of current and alum singers of all abilities about the project, Robyn gets an overwhelming YES answer from each family! Then, in conversation with head principal, Tim Hazlett, it is agreed that the project would benefit a broader cross section of singers, and the department decides to open up spots to non-concert choir singers by application. The response is OVERWHELMING!
Kyle sends Draft #3. This is getting very real.
December 2019: Guest singers' roster is solidified! The group of human beings that will share the stage to sing this unified message is impressive! Take a look! Concert Choir continues to meet and rehearse their entire ACDA set daily, while the guest choir meets every Tuesday and Thursday during an advisory period for 30 minutes.
February 2020: Kyle's third visit to Roosevelt and fist combined rehearsal between Concert Choir, guest choir and Mr. Hazlett singing a solo!
March 2020: The group all comes together again for rehearsal, a home concert, and then the CONFERENCE.
The Roosevelt student council started a chapter of Best Buddies International in the fall of 2017. The mission of this organization is dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Best Buddies programs empower the special abilities of people with IDD by helping them form meaningful friendships with their peers, secure successful jobs, live independently, improve public speaking, self-advocacy and communication skills, and feel valued by society.
2018 was the first year of Roosevelt High School implementing Unified Sports! The first two teams were volleyball and basketball! This year, Roosevelt's big Unified Games night is Friday, March 13! Head Principal, Tim Hazlett is coaching one team and teacher, Kara West, is coaching the other. Each team is comprised of five regular education and five special abilities players! Teacher, Ashley Kemmis, is also bringing her all abilities cheer squad to perform. Roosevelt asks coaches to encourage their players to attend, and Student Council will be making poster board signs for the student section during our next best buddy ad room meeting!
" Admission is free but the experience is priceless!!" - Michele Jensen, Student Council Advisor
Unity, Inc. EXPLOSION!
Piggybacking on the idea of Unified Sports, the choir department found the concept of a Unified Show Choir a no-brainer for our community! Starting the pilot group in the spring of 2019, 60 students volunteered to buddy up with dancers of all abilities and learn choreography to one song.
This fall, "Unity, Inc" became the first official all abilities competitive show choir! The response, literally around the nation, has been so positive and uplifting!!