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Ventura show choir hopes to win $50,000 prize from “Glee”

Company, Ventura Unified's show choir, and local celebrities created a video together to enter in Glee's "Give A Note" contest. Photo used with permission from Company.
Company, Ventura Unified’s show choir, and local celebrities created a video together to enter in Glee’s “Give A Note” contest. Photo used with permission from Company.

With school budget cuts constantly looming overhead, it’s no secret that school art and music programs are typically the first ones affected when it comes to cutting down on spending. Without the necessary funding, the Ventura Unified’s high school show choir, Company, is in danger of facing financial hardships this school year.

Fortunately, some of the big names in show business have realized the impact of budget cuts on music programs nationwide, and are offering 73 awards totaled at $1,000,000 for the winners’ school music programs. The Big Three – Fox, “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy, and the National Association for Music Education – are giving school show choirs across the country a chance to prove why they are deserving of one of these grand prizes through the national “Glee Give A Note” video contest.

The “Glee Give A Note” contest offers three $50,000 prizes, ten $25,000 prizes, and sixty $10,000 prizes to its winners. Company, which currently cannot afford an accompanist, costumer, or musical arranger would use the prize money to fulfill its smaller needs, should the choir place in the contest.

“If [the] VUSD show choir placed in the contest, it would allow us to expand the program by funding vocal music, costumes, props, sound systems, and regional performances. It would put VUSD Company ‘on the map’!” Ventura Unified Superintendent Dr. Trudy Arriaga said. {sidebar id=35}

With the help of Hank Tovar, Company has entered their video into the contest, in the hopes of making it into the top 500 videos with public votes, and then on to the final round. A panel of judges will determine the top 73 videos. Company’s video entry, which features local celebrities such as Big Bad Voodoo Daddy‘s Dirk Shumaker and Andy Rowley and the Rubicon Theatre‘s Brian McDonald, can be seen here.

President of Ventura Education Partnership Kay Giles stated that once she was notified about the video contest, she met with Company director Heidi House and VUSD Assistant Superintendent Kathy Asher to put Company’s contest plans into action.

“It would mean so much for Company to win any amount of money in this contest,” Giles said. “Company is the only high school vocal music program in our school district. VUSD has suffered severe budget cuts of over $20 million per year in recent years, and it is getting harder and harder to keep the arts alive.”

Company, which features student singers from Ventura, Buena, Foothill, and El Camino high schools has performed, and continues to perform, regularly throughout the community and requires immense time and energy on the students’ part.

“These students are dedicated to their show choir, meeting at 6:15 in the morning for a zero period class…One young woman leaves her house at 5:30 a.m. and rides her bike to class. They do it because they love to sing and perform,” Giles said.

Senior show choir singers Heidi Bjorndahl and Sarah DeWitt are just a few of the many dedicated students.

“Show choir has been an amazing experience. Having the discipline to make yourself get up at five in the morning to be there for class at 6:15 is not easy, but totally worth it,” Bjorndahl said. “I’ve learned a lot about music – reading music, sight singing, harmonizing and blending…and one of the most important things I have learned from choir is about working together…It’s really difficult making a group of over 40 kids sound like one person, but that’s what we are learning day to day, and we get better as time goes by!”

“I think we have a lot of committed kids and we work really hard, so I’m optimistic about placing, but I know there are a lot of really talented other show choirs out there, so it’s going to be tough. We need votes!” DeWitt said.

“…we work mornings before school, sometimes after school, at least two weekends a month and so on; we have fully committed to this class and work so hard…That’s what makes it so enjoyable, when everyone around you shares your same passion, and wants to be there as much as you do,” Bjorndahl said.

To help Company make it to the top, log in to the “Glee Give a Note” contest website, and cast your vote for Company once every day. The contest runs from October 11 to November 7.

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Ventura show choir hopes to win $50,000 prize from “Glee”