Kenai’s Mountain View Elementary School has been hosting the Young Americans Show Choir since Monday in a three-day event that culminates with a community performance tonight at Kenai Central High School at 6:30 p.m.
Through the Young Americans program, 36 men and women from across the globe have been brought to Kenai to work with students to develop their performing arts skills in singing, drama and dance. The workshop brought together about 180 Mountain View students and about 70 students from other district schools, said Mountain View Elementary Principal Karl Kircher.
“The Young Americans approached us about a year and a half ago with the idea of the performance arts workshop and show,” Kircher said. “…I thought that was a super idea. How could that not be great for your students, to have that exposure to the arts and have 36 caring adults come in to the school to interact with your kids?”
The Young Americans have spent the spring touring Alaska, visiting schools in Anchorage, Nenana, Fairbanks and Healy before arriving in Kenai on Monday.
The program is being offered at no cost to the students, thanks to community fundraising.
“We have to house the (Young Americans) with host families as well, and we looked around and said to ourselves, ‘Yep, we have a community that will support that,” Kircher said. “The most important thing is that when they first came to us … we knew we would have our teacher support, community support and district support. There was nothing about (the program) that we thought we couldn’t sell to them, and here we are.”
In preparation for the community performance, the Young Americans have been working with students on various high-energy acts. The group asked students to sing, dance, move in unison, improvise and more.
“They are instructed on how to work with kids, how to build a rapport,” Kircher said. “We were watching these (performers) work with the kids and if we were evaluating them on our district rubric, they would be scoring huge points on instruction. They are instructors, as well as performers.”
The goal of the Young Americans tour, according to the group’s website, is to “bring music back into schools, opening doors of discovery for the musical talents of young people.” Founded in 1962, the organization has been visiting schools since 1992, connecting students and young adults in hopes of “inspiring (students) to make important connections between education and practical use.”
Tonight, the students will join the Young Americans on stage at Kenai Central High School to showcase the techniques they have learned over the course of the workshop. The show begins at 6:30 p.m. It is open to the public, with tickets costing $8 for students and $10 for adults. Tickets can be purchased at the high school at 12:45 p.m. and again at 6 p.m.