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Hughesville High School choir to perform at Disney

By Staff | Mar 9, 2016

PHOTO PROVIDED Dr. Chris Jackson, director of the Lycoming College choirs, follows along with the Hughesville High School choir during a recent rehearsal for Disney. Jackson helped teach the choral students how to open up to allow for better vocal tone and enunciation.

HUGHESVILLE – The world-famous Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Students in the Hughesville High School choir and their director, Brian Barckley, dreamt of singing in front of thousands in Disney World, and that’s what they’re going to do.

Members of the chorus in grades 9 through 12 during the 2016-17 school year will join hundreds of singers from across the country, including professional singers, the Walt Disney orchestra and a celebrity narrator in telling the story of Christmas during the Epcot Candlelight Christmas Processional at Disney World in November.

“I told the kids a few years ago, ‘Someday, we’re going to Disney,’ ” Barckley said. “I don’t think they really believed this could happen.”

The group submitted two audition pieces over the course of the past several months, the second of which had to be redone, and then played the waiting game.

New choir robes were purchased for the trip to Disney.

Though Barckley was just made aware of the choir’s acceptance into the program on Feb. 10, students have been registering for the trip since the end of 2015. There were other performances the choir could have participated in, but Barckley said he is grateful they made it into the candlelight processional.

The candlelight performances begin Nov. 25 and continue through the end of December. Barckley, 20 chaperones and 84 members of the choir will begin the 21-hour bus trip to Florida at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 25 and arrive around 9 a.m. the following day. The group will get to enjoy a few days at the park along with their two performances on Nov. 27. They will then journey home Nov. 30 and arrive on Dec. 1.

Until then, the Spartan choir will have to learn 12 songs for the program – something the students are looking forward to.

“I just can’t wait to get the rest of our pieces,” Lambert said. “The sooner we can practice, the better we’ll be. We’re a small choir, so that allows us to over-practice.”

“Even though we’ve been accepted, the work has just started,” Barckley said. “We’re very committed to learning those songs for Disney. We want to show them that we deserve to be there. That we want to do professional production.”

For the graduating seniors of the choir, acceptance into the November/December 2016 program is bittersweet. Katelyn Derby, a senior who will attend Pennsylvania College of Technology in the fall, said that it’s worth it.

“We weren’t going to slack off or not try just because we’re seniors,” she said. “We have to work hard and be one choir.”

Barckley said the students’ hard work is the biggest reason for the trip and their acceptance into the processional.

When he began as the choir director in the 2012-13 school year, there were fewer than 30 students between the junior and senior high choirs. Since then, the choirs have more than quadrupled in size, now amassing 135 students, and also have grown in skill.

Barckley said the support of the East Lycoming School District and surrounding Hughesville community also has been paramount.

“Music education provides students with life-long skills and lasting memories,” he said. “I’m proud to be a part of a school district that promotes excellence in all areas of student achievement and endeavors, including music education.”

Previously the Hughesville High School Spartan Marching Band made it to Disney and this will be the first for the chorus.