(Psst!… Just want to skip straight to the part where we hear from Horizon Choir about their amazing program? CLICK HERE)
Most high schools out there are chock full of clubs, teams, chapters, squads, troupes, and any number of other types of groups for students to get involved in. When a student finds a great program, it can truly make all the difference in the world in making their high school experience a good one!
In fact, it’s these kinds of groups – ones with purpose and enthusiasm for whatever it is that they do and/or celebrate – that can shape individuals into the people they go on to become! It is often the case that the lessons, skills, or knowledge gained while participating in any one or more of these groups are carried with students past the years of high school education and on into the rest of students lives!
Now trust us when we say, we not only believe in the incredible value of belonging to a club, team, squad, etc., but we’ve witnessed the incredible effects first hand! We are so lucky to be able to travel with many different kinds of student groups to explore new places and to seek out new adventures on student performance trips. It is on trips like these that we’ve learned what an awesome student organization looks like.
Great programs are all about the students and caring about what their needs are, how they can positively influence their lives and teach them to reach towards their highest potential. Great programs strive to improve year after year, to reach more students, and to adapt to the needs of the organization. Great programs don’t shy away from new experiences, traveling to new places, or implementing new techniques. Great programs are innovating and are building students’ characters!
We wanted to take this opportunity to highlight a student group we’ve gotten to know recently that we feel really takes these high standards to the next level. This organization that fits the bill for every one of these qualifications is none other than the Horizon High School Choir Program in Scottsdale, Arizona!
In preparation for our upcoming trip with them in the coming months to Orlando, we have gotten a little peek into the well-oiled machine that is Horizon High School’s Choir program. We also had the pleasure this last September of attending Horizon Choir’s ‘Broadway Under the Stars‘ production, and it was absolutely INCREDIBLE! We were blown away! Having witnessed the amazing work that they do, we wanted to reach out to them to share with us a little about what has made their program so successful!
We were able to get in touch with Allison Kluch, who is the choir director at Horizon High School and one of the teachers involved in the day to day operations of the program, to ask a few questions about the success that Horizon Choir has experienced and what she feels has contributed to the growth and influence of the program! Check out what she had to say!
Q: What is something that you feel has significantly contributed to creating a successful program at Horizon? What advice do you have for smaller choir programs looking to grow?
A: “At Horizon, we are blessed to have had a history of phenomenal music educators at the helm of our choir program. Since the school opened in 1985, there have only been four teachers (including myself) in the position. The three teachers before me worked tirelessly to flourish the growth of our program both in student numbers and in student achievement.
“While I am still very green, I think the best advice I could give to smaller programs would be to continue to push the envelope. Our students achieve anything we expect them to. If we expect them to do little, they will do that and nothing more. If we expect them to do something fantastic, they will rise to the occasion! The more success they experience, the more contagious it will be for the other students at the school and soon you’ll have people busting down the door to be a part of the program.”
Q: How have you been able to engage the community in being so involved and supporting your program so effectively?
A: “We have such incredible support surrounding us because our choir program has been a staple in our community for years. As we have continued to grow and our shows have become bigger and better, we have continued to attract more and more parents, neighbors, and even strangers to our cause! As fun as it is for our students to have a second family in choir, I sometimes believe that our adult volunteers get even more joy from being involved. We also work hard to show our parent volunteers how great it is to have a way to connect with their students who, once they reach high school, so often disappear from home as they become more and more engaged in extracurricular activities, social lives, and jobs of their own.”
Q: How did fundraising efforts for your program start and evolve into the successful campaigns that they are today? What makes these so effective?
A: “Our fundraising efforts are entirely the brainchild of our parent booster group, ACCENTS. Having a large parent group provides a wealth of knowledge on what works and what absolutely doesn’t. We are also blessed to have choral colleagues across the country who are willing to share their ideas and feedback. For example, the Princess Academy [fundraiser] was an idea that was borrowed (all the way down to the smallest detail!) from our former Horizon choir director, Katie Kouns.”
Q: What role has traveling for competition played in the growth, development, and overall success of your program? What travel experiences have been most important for your program to have?
A: “To be frank, Arizona is not the most supportive state when it comes to music education. Therefore, our opportunities for competition and exchange with other high school programs are limited. By traveling to access those opportunities, not only do we give our students something to work towards, we make our program more attractive to potential students. If choir were just another curricular class for one hour a day with a concert every once in awhile, I doubt we would have the same enrollment. Because we can tell our potential students that if you join choir you could travel to places like San Francisco, Nashville, Orlando, New York City, even Hawaii, we garner a lot more student interest. Not to mention the fact that that kind of travel is something many of our students may not otherwise get to experience.
“With all of that said, I have to acknowledge that the demographics of our school also plays a part in where and how often we are able to travel. I know there are other schools who would love to travel with their choirs but simply don’t have a community that could afford to do so. It is an opportunity we are blessed to have and we most certainly don’t take it for granted.”
Q: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about the Horizon choir program and what makes it so awesome!?
A: “Since our choirs were founded, the main focus has been on building students with strong moral character before building musicians. I would assert that this is the case in most choir programs across the country. For some reason, music just seems to create good people. In our current high school climate, kind, genuine, and honest teenagers are hard to come by.
“I am proud to say that our students- their work ethic, their positive attitudes, and their treatment of others- are solely responsible for our success as a choir program. Our seniors continue to pave the way for the younger choir members and they continue to bring more and more people with them to our program. We are truly blessed!”
There is no question that a quality program has the power to change the lives of students in incredibly positive ways. Having all been involved in a variety of programs during our high school years, and while are constantly working with groups to put together exciting trips, every one of us on our team here at EXP Trips has seen the power that great teachers, strong teams, and new experiences can have in high school students’ lives.
We hope that these insights were helpful and they can help you to further improve and perfect the outstandingly important work that you do for your students! Thank you, teachers, for all of the incredible work that you do!
And we especially thank Allyson Klutch for providing these responses to us! Ally, you ROCK!!!
Photos courtesy of Horizon High School Choir Program
What things do you think contribute to making a great high school program? What were your takeaways from this article? Leave a comment and let us know!