The Kennewick School District will celebrate Music in the Schools month with its annual All-City 5th Grade Choral Fest at 7 p.m. March 25-26 at Southridge High School.
The choral festival has grown in popularity since it began 32 years ago. More than 1,200 fifth-grade students will perform, representing all the Kennewick elementary schools.
"The concert has grown but not due to a change in music education in the Kennewick School District, but rather due to growth in numbers of students," said Cheryl Cannard, teacher at Ridge View Elementary School.
The number of elementary schools in the district has increased from eight to 14 since the festival began, Cannard said.
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"This is not a select or auditioned choir -- this is every fifth-grade student in the Kennewick School District," she said.
Her colleague, Matt Rehmki, says what makes the festival important are the powerful memories it creates among the students.
"Seldom do 10- to 12-year-olds come together for a common cause," Rehmki said. "In the midst of state testing, the choral festival provides a welcome opportunity for students to work together, be empathetic with one another and have fun. It's important for children to learn and have fun.
"The festival also allows some students to see first-hand the great diversity we have in our community," he added, referring to the nearly 20 different languages spoken by the district's students.
Rehmki is a music specialist at Eastgate Elementary School.
The students will sing a variety of tunes during the two-night festival of song. There is no admission fee.
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @dorioneal