El Segundo High School Choir Tours Hawaii for Performances and Cultural Exchange

Three performances were scheduled while in Hawaii—one at the Polynesian Cultural Center, one at Hokulani Elementary School, and the last at Pearl Harbor. While in Oahu, the ESHS choir also had the opportunity to participate in a music clinic with Associate Professor of Music Miguel Felipe from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and Artistic Director Nola Nahulu from the Hawaiian Youth Opera Choir.

“The ESHS Choir participated in an outdoor concert at the Polynesian Cultural Center, which had nearly 5,000 visitors the day of our performance,” said Summers. “While the choir sang, some members of the audience and I were moved to tears by the beauty of the music. The students were beyond connected and it was a true representation of what music is all about.”

A notable highlight of the trip was a patriotic performance at Pearl Harbor. The ESHS Choir sang the National Anthem at the USS Missouri Battleship Memorial. They performed in front of United Nations flags representing all the places the USS Missouri traveled while at sea. All veterans and active military present during the ESHS choir’s performance stood at salute during the National Anthem.

“Our performance at the USS Missouri was really emotional,” said Sophie Long, a senior soprano in the ESHS Choir. “It was a powerful experience because we were singing for our country at a significant and historical place. I could feel the impact our performance had on everyone watching.”

While in Hawaii, the students also took in the sights and took a hike at the Diamond Head State Monument. “The highlight of the trip for me was our hike along the Diamond Head summit trail,” said Meghan Drohan, an ESHS 12th grade soprano. “It was just so beautiful! We were able to see many of the places we had visited from up high and it was awesome to experience that together.”

Under Summer’s direction, students in the ESHS Choirs have had the opportunity to travel abroad and in the United States, perform live, learn about different cultures, and further their musical education. In past years, the ESHS Choirs have traveled and performed at places such as the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, the Presidential Inauguration in Washington D.C., the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Disneyland in Paris, and they have performed on Broadway in New York City. Participating in choir provides students with opportunities they may not have otherwise. These performance tours are paid for by the students and their families, and through fundraising.

Arts in education expands creativity and helps in the improvement of students’ attitudes regarding school while also teaching children how to better communicate with adults and peers. Today, there is limited budget allocated for the arts in public schools. A good portion of arts programming at the El Segundo Unified School District is funded by the El Segundo Educational Foundation, which is generously supported by the community.

“Arts are so important because it’s a way to express yourself creatively,” said Long. “I feel music allows me to express myself without judgment. Being a member of choir provides a sense of family. If arts education were to be taken away, it would leave little room for creativity, imagination, and putting your own spin on things.”