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BRIGHT FUTURES — Numerous Nederland High choir students rank No. 1 in All-Region showing

NEDERLAND — Maci Simmons says the Nederland High School choir department is filled with some of the hardest working students she knows, and each uses their talents to highlight what others are capable of as individuals.

“We take criticism very seriously because we know it pushes us even harder to perform better than we did before,” Simmons said. “We also want the best for each other, and we want each other to succeed in any way possible.”

The hard work led to impressive results for the high school choir, which competed in the 2020-21 All Region Choir Auditions Oct. 17 and 18.

Pictured are a majority of the 36 Nederland High School choir members chosen to advance to Pre-Area at the end of November in their next round of competitions. (Courtesy photo)

From Nederland High, there were 59 students who made the All-Region Choir, 42 students made the Mixed Choir (the top choir) and 36 students were chosen to advance to Pre-Area at the end of November in their next round of competitions.

Simmons, a senior choir student, describes her fellow choir members as the best support group imaginable.

“We even consider each other family,” she said. “Therefore, having so many students share the same love for music and who are capable of showing strong leadership shows that Nederland choir kids are ones that you should watch out for.”

The process continues to eliminate auditioners from Top Ten to the Top Five in every section in the next round (Pre-Area) Nov. 28-Dec. 2. And those top five students will compete with other regions’ best singers for a chance to make the Texas All-State Choir on Jan. 2-5.

Pictured are a majority of the 59 Nederland High School students who made the All-Region Choir. (Courtesy photo)

This year has been totally different because of COVID, forcing students to skip traditional live auditions. Students had to record and submit their entries. Judges listened to the recordings at home and recorded their scores online.

Choir Director Lara Strawther, in her first year teaching at Nederland High, is joined on staff by Assistant Choir Director Lance Orta.

Strawther said their students hit the ground running and worked everyday throughout the distractions to prepare for this contest.

“These kids all worked really hard at making their recordings musical, trying to set themselves apart from other auditioners,” she said. “Many have been trying out for the All Region Choir for the last several years and for some it was their very first time to give it a try.”

Nederland choir students competed against all other 5A and 6A schools in the region to earn these honors.

“These kids are amazing,” Strawther said. “Of course they have been trained well through a fantastic choir and music program at Nederland High School. They have had a lot of success. They’ve had several students participate in the All State Choir over the years. They are very well known in the community by their choir performances and through the pop group, Ned and Company.”

There are eight voice parts that compete in the All-Region High School Choir Competition. This year the NHS Choir managed to have a student rank No. 1 in seven out of the eight sections.

As a 17-year veteran teacher, Strawther described the accomplishment as incredible and rare.

Students that ranked No. 1 in their voice parts include:

• senior Isabelle Hawkins – Soprano 2
• junior Erin Garsee – Alto 1
• senior Maci Simmons – Alto 2
• junior Sergio Mendez – Tenor 1
• junior Ethan Holder – Tenor 2
• junior Thomas Doyle – Bass 1
• junior Dylan Nguyen – Bass 2

Strawther describes these seven students as strong, talented musicians who are very driven to work hard and do their best every day.

Hawkins, who has always loved music, said performing with others who are just as passionate makes it easier for creative magic.

“Knowing that what we do inspires other people, makes it all worth it,” she said. “It definitely helps to be around a group that loves being creative with music, too. We all love working together, making great performances and helping the younger students grow to love music as much as we do.”