Glee comes to District 196

Dakota Valley Show Choir to perform free show at Eastview Feb. 3.

 

Eighty fifth- through seventh-graders practice for the Dakota Valley Show Choir’s free performance at 4 p.m. Feb. 3 at Eastview High School at 6200 140th St W. in Apple Valley. The performance is open to the public. - Photo submitted

Eighty fifth- through seventh-graders practice for the Dakota Valley Show Choir’s free performance at 4 p.m. Feb. 3 at Eastview High School at 6200 140th St W. in Apple Valley. The performance is open to the public. – Photo submitted

For the first time, middle and elementary school students in the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District can learn to sing and dance much like their favorite stars from the television show “Glee.”

A new program called Dakota Valley Show Choir was created earlier this year by three district choir teachers who were frustrated by recent cuts to arts in District 196 middle and elementary schools.

“We wanted to give kids another opportunity to get them excited for music,” said Jim Cox, choir director at Eagan High School. Cox created and directs the program with his wife, Megan, who is a part-time choir director at Black Hawk Middle School and Eastview choir director Kari Douma.

The program is open to students across the district in fifth through seventh grade. In its first year, the program consists of 80 students who will perform excerpts from “Newsies the Musical” at 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 3 at Eastview High School. Jim Cox emphasized that the free performance is one hour in length enabling families to get home before the Super Bowl begins.

The Broadway musical is based on the New York City Newsboys Strike in 1899.

Jim Cox said he believes the theme of this year’s performance will teach students about overcoming adversity and to believe in oneself.

He added that he hopes the program will encourage students to love music and be a part of the creative process in a noncompetitive way.

“I think competitions are great but it’s equally profound when those competitors can work together for a common goal,” he said.

Students have been training for two hours at a time for the past three Sundays. Students will have one more practice Sunday afternoon before the performance, which will conclude the program for the year.

At each practice they learn choreography, vocals and work with 10 high school students who serve as mentors.

Black Hawk sixth-graders Nellie Benton and Kirsten Akey said they enjoy learning from the older students.

Benton said she likes that the show choir provides an opportunity to meet students from other schools who are within her age group.

Both girls have been involved in area dance and choir programs and said their love for music pushed them to join the show choir.

The choir teaching trio hopes to continue the program next year.

“We hope it takes off,” Jim Cox said. “It’s been very fun for the kids and directors.”

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