Spark Newsmagazine


Spark Newsmagazine


Spark Newsmagazine


Eastside Voices Take D.C.

Eastside Voices Choir embarks to Washington, D.C. to perform in the Parade of Heroes for Veterans Day.

Eastside Voices, East’s most competitive choir, headed to Washington, D.C. for their biggest performance yet: the Parade of Heroes. The singing Thunderhawks were one of only three choirs and three bands across the U.S. in attendance for this event. 


Led by Head Choir Director Becky Huddilston and Assistant Director Alexander Fernandez, 44 out of 51 Voices members spent four days in D.C. honoring veterans, singing to the community, and seeing the nation’s capital.


“We’re just going out and doing our thing; it’s not a competition,” Huddilston told Spark. “We’re representing the state of Ohio, our community, our school.”


The National Veterans Day Ceremony’s Parade of Heroes is “a monumental solute to the veterans that honors those who bravely served our country during the past century of our nation’s history,” according to the National Veterans Day website. 


At the parade, Voices first performed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with the veterans watching. The ceremony then continued in front of the World War II Memorial. Later in the day, Voices held a second performance in front of the Iwo Jima Memorial facing the entire city of Washington, D.C. The choir had the opportunity to interact with the veterans at the ceremony by passing out medals to recipients.  


“It’s not a very common experience to see this gathering,” Alexa Schatzke, East senior and Voices member, told Spark. “I think it’s really cool to have one-on-one interactions with them and just to thank them.”


Everyone who went on the trip paid $579 each. Voices is not allowed to fundraise for field trips within the district. 


Huddilston received a letter in January 2023 from Joel Biggs, Executive Producer of Historic Programs, stating that Voices had been anonymously nominated to participate in the Parade of Heroes. 


“Someone, somewhere, nominated us,” Schatzke said. “But we aren’t 100% sure who it is, which is kinda funny.”


Nominations are made through the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). Although the choir does not know who specifically nominated them, they believe that their past accomplishments, along with their presence on social media, have helped them gain notice. 


“Whenever we do something, someone will post on YouTube, and that keeps it living,” Huddilston said. “Those [videos] speak volumes. Social media has just blossomed into something really cool.” 


All East choirs biannually travel to the Festival Disney, an event where choirs from around the country visit the Disney parks, attend workshops given by professionals, and compete against each other. As Festival Disney is a nationally-known program, it helped Voices significantly with getting on a wider radar. The festival is sponsored by NAfME.


“When you go out and you do these trips, and you’re performing, going home with trophies or plaques of recognition, those things put your name on the map,” Huddilston said. 


In D.C., Voices spent time visiting places such as the National Archives, the Smithsonian Institute, and the Capitol Building: monuments that most students have not seen before.


“None of these kids got to go on a D.C. trip either,” Huddilston said. “In fact, they were in eighth grade when COVID hit, so they are finally getting to go.” 


The trip served as a way to help the group members connect with veterans while also continuing to maintain a high status as a group. 


“Being able to connect to the veterans through our music was remarkable,” Ben Muelheisen, East junior and Voices member, told Spark. “We were also getting the opportunity to interact with each other more, becoming much closer as a result.”

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