Clayton Schools’ concert to honor 9/11 heroes

To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, four Clayton County schools will join forces –– in a choral concert –– to honor those who lost, or risked, their lives on that faithful day.

Choral programs from Lovejoy High School, Lovejoy Middle School, the Eddie White Academy, and River’s Edge Elementary School, will perform a “song set” comprised of songs by British composer, Ralph Vaughan-Williams, and inspirational presentations by the individual choirs. The concert will be held Thursday, Sept. 8, at 7 p.m., at the McDonough Road Baptist Church.

The musical performance is under the joint direction of Phillip McKibbin, choral director at Lovejoy High School; Cherynne Hinton, choral director at Lovejoy Middle School; Chantae Pittman, choral director at the Eddie White Academy; and Elizabeth Rawls, choral director at River’s Edge Elementary School.

“We believe that this concert will be a tremendous experience for our communities,” said Lovejoy High School’s McKibbin, “as the events of Sept. 11, 2001 have impacted such a large number of people.”

Lovejoy Middle’s Chantae Pittman said the idea to bring the choral programs together was the suggestion of Kay Sledge, the district’s fine arts coordinator. “She thought it would be a good idea for us to do more concerts with our feeder schools,” said Pittman.

Due to conflicting school schedules, Pittman said, the choral groups were not able to hold combined choir rehearsals. Each choir, she added, will be performing individual song selections for the majority of the concert. The day of the concert, however, there will be a mass rehearsal, during which the choirs will learn two songs they will perform together, she said.

Elizabeth Rawls, of River’s Edge Elementary, said the process for preparing the fourth-and fifth-graders, who make up the school’s choral group, has gone off without a hitch. “This will be their first concert of the year,” she said. With less than a month to prepare for the concert, Rawls added, the students have done a “wonderful job.”

She said her students –– as one of the individual presentations –– will recite poems of inspiration, in relation to the events of Sept. 11.

Lovejoy Middle School’s Cherynne Hinton said she was a little apprehensive, at first, about the idea of a combined concert. Her reasons for hesitation: She wondered if her students would understand the magnitude and seriousness of the occasion. “They were really young when this event happened, and how it changed our country,” she said.

Her students, however, have been putting in extra rehearsal time to prepare for the big day, she said. For one student in particular, she said, emotions have been running high. The unforgettable attacks on the World Trade Center 10 years ago had a direct impact on this student’s life. “I have one student in my choral group, who lost two family members in the attacks,” Hinton said.

Despite her initial reluctance, Hinton said she is now glad the district decided to put on this concert to honor the nation’s heroes.

At River’s Edge Elementary, Elizabeth Rawls shared her enthusiasm and said her students are “extremely excited,” and can’t wait to perform.

Lovejoy Middle’s Pittman said she, too, is elated the schools’ choral programs are coming together in this way. “It’s going to be a great, great celebration, she said.

The concert is free and open to the public.