By Michael Davis
Sacred music filled the sanctuary of Jackson United Methodist Church on Thursday, but it wasn't coming from the church organ or the church choir. The Jackson High School chorus and handbell groups capped off the 2009-2010 school year with a performance that included a selection of religious and patriotic music.
Led by Director Stephen Crocker, in his second year at Jackson, The Voices of Jackson and The Bells of Jackson performed for a nearly-full house at Jackson United Methodist.
Smaller groups -- trios and quartets -- also sang for the audience of parents, family and community members.
"With it being our very last concert, God's done so much for us, you've got to tell Him you love Him more than anything," said senior Derrick Davidson, who led a small group of singers during a portion of the concert.
Crocker said The Voices of Jackson is made up of students with a variety of interests outside of singing. The group includes athletes, band musicians and singers with little, if any, other singing experience. "It's just a variety of kids and that's what makes it work," he said.
Crocker said that in addition to teaching students about music, the chorus program at Jackson High teaches students about discipline, self-control and performance.
"The first month, we really don't even sing a lot," he said. "It's exercises and [instruction on] really how to make the sound the best way, so hopefully, by this time, they've really got the basics down."
Kassie Bishop, 16, a junior who took a solo during "Ave Maria," said it's difficult to explain Crocker's method, but she knows it works.
"I'm not sure what he does, but he makes everyone better," she said. "He knows what he's doing."
In addition to "Ave Maria," students performed "Down to the River to Pray," "Elijah Rock," "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child," and "Homeward Bound" among others.
Selections also included "My Country 'Tis of Thee," "America the Beautiful," and "Battle Hymn of the Republic."
The performance ended with an arrangement of "Amazing Grace."