By MARINA WATERS
Seven students have made Washington County history.
Students from Grandview Elementary School made it into the Tennessee All-East Honors Chorus after auditioning against 330 students from across east Tennessee to be accepted into the choir. This is the first time middle school students from a Washington County School have made it into the honors chorus.
The students include Savannah Lands, Emmalyn Casey, Hannah Decker, Grace Templin, Adina Phebus, Gideon Dowling and Josh Maupin. And for chorus member Grace Templin, the unexpected honor brought her and her friend to tears.
“It was kind of scary, but at the same time I was ready for rejection,” Templin said. “I was just ready for them to say, ‘Nope, you didn’t make it. Try again some other time.’
“When they told us, me and my friend Adina, we started crying in the gym. We were like, ‘We did it! We made it!’”
However, it wasn’t easy. One of the students, Gideon Dowling, explained what he thought was most difficult.
“The songs were really different,” Dowling said. “The younger students couldn’t (have sang the songs), definitely. We had to learn an entirely different song.”
Leading up to the final concert, the students were also taught how to become better singers.
“I’m pretty sure we all came in here thinking we all knew how to sing like Britney Spears. And then we got taught how to properly sing,” Templin said. “So now we’re more proud of that.”
But the challenge these singers were faced with was one that Music Department and Concert Choir Director Ben Davenport knew his students could handle.
“The opportunity is there (within the students),” Davenport said. “They come and they work hard—I work them hard. I keep pushing because it’s there.”
Now Davenport and his students have been left with an honor to bring back to their school. And this is an honor they hope will go beyond the school year and reach into upcoming chorus students.
“I feel like it’s a legacy that will go on through Grandview to the ones that will soon join,” Templin said. “And that could maybe encourage kids from younger grades that are about to come in to join hopefully.”