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Clayton Schools to present Honor Chorus

By Curt Yeomans

Nearly 300 Clayton County fourth-graders and fifth-graders are expected to show off their vocal skills at the Clayton County Public Schools Performing Arts Center on Sunday.

The youths, members of the of the school system's All-County Elementary Honor Chorus, will perform a free concert at 3 p.m., at 2530 Mt. Zion Pkwy., in Jonesboro.

Chorus Director Darlene Guida said the group will sing nine songs, including one written by former school system chorus teacher, Michael Douragh, in memory of former school system coordinator of fine arts, Martha Ellen Stillwell, who died recently.

Guida is the director of the School of the Arts at James A. Jackson Elementary, as well as its music teacher, and the voice teacher for the school system's Fine Arts Magnet High School.

She said an All-County Elementary Honor Chorus has been assembled only two other times. Those occasions were the PAC's grand opening and dedication ceremony, on May 20,1990, and on the PAC's 15th anniversary in 2005. She said the chorus is not being put together because of a PAC anniversary, although that 20th anniversary is next week.

"This will be the first time we've done an All-County Elementary Honor Chorus for something other than an anniversary," Guida said. "It is my understanding, and my hope, that this becomes an annual event."

The elementary chorus follows in the footsteps of the all-county middle and high school bands, choruses and orchestras, which were established last year, according to Guida.

During the concert, the youths will demonstrate their musical abilities by performing in three-part harmony, singing in Latin, performing on the recorders, and playing Orff percussion instruments, according to Guida. "Through rigorous musical selections, it gives our most bright, and intelligent students a chance to grow musically," she said.

The students participating in the chorus represent almost every elementary school in the county. The only schools which will not be represented are Mt. Zion and Kemp primary schools, the chorus director said.

"Mt. Zion Primary School and Kemp Primary School will not be represented in the chorus because it is only for fourth-, and fifth-graders," Guida said. "Those schools only go up to the second grade."

Guida said music teachers at each participating elementary school got to select up to eight students to be members of the All-County Elementary Honor Chorus.

"They had to have good tone and hearing skills, good grades, and good attendance records," Guida said. "We had to be mindful of the fire code for how many people could be on stage at the same time, but we wanted to include as many students as possible."