Grand Island students in third through eighth grade were able to learn more about show choir at a hands-on camp this weekend.

The Grand Island Senior High Center for Performing and Creative Arts hosted its annual junior show choir camp at the school this past Saturday and Sunday. GISH vocal music director Jesse LaBrie said the camp has been held annually since the early 2000s. He said this year’s camp featured 160 third- through eighth-graders, as well as approximately 65 to 70 GISH students who helped out with the camp.

LaBrie said seniors from all three GISH show choirs chose the music and “pretty much did everything” at the show choir camp. He added other students in GISH’s Ultimate Image varsity show choir also helped with the camp.

“The seniors in the whole show choir program got together last month and organized the camp,” LaBrie said. “They picked out music and created the schedules for the day. We broke the kids up into groups of third- and fourth-graders, fifth- and sixth-graders, and seventh- and eighth-graders. Within those groups, we have two dance leaders who created the choreography and two vocal leaders who help teach the singing. We also have a person in charge of games throughout the camp.”

GISH senior Elise Vahle said the junior show choir camp began on Saturday with her group — fourth- and fifth-graders — being taught their two songs — “Footloose” and “Don’t Stop Believing” — before rehearsing their show that was performed during Premier Night Sunday evening.

“Today (Sunday) we rehearsed it like how we are going to do it for the show,” she said. “We were mainly in the band room working with just our group and then we rotated throughout the high school so everyone could practice.”

Engleman Elementary fifth-grader Lilly Hunter, who participated in the camp for the first time this weekend, said it was a challenge to learn the songs and choreography for the show in only two days.

“It is a lot of hard work, but a lot of fun,” she said.

LaBrie said he hopes the younger students participating in the junior show choir camp were able to see what GISH show choir is all about and have their interest piqued.

“I hope the kids learn teamwork and hopefully continue to develop a passionate love for performing, dancing and singing,” he said. “I hope they learn to bond with the older kids. I see younger kids launching onto the older kids and it just makes me smile. It is also good for the older kids to realize that teaching these younger kids is a little more challenging than they thought.”

Hunter said the show choir camp helped pique her interest in show choir.

“I didn’t really like that kind of stuff at first, but then I actually did it and it has been really fun,” she said.

Vahle said the junior show choir camp has come full circle for her as she participated in the camp since she was in third-grade and is now teaching at it.

“I have been doing kids’ camp since I was in third grade and I am in 12th grade now. That is 10 years of kids camp. It has been fun to be a kid in it and then be a group leader now,” she said. “What I like to focus is trying to make them (younger kids) have an enjoyable experience so that when they come to GISH, they will want to do show choir. I just try to make the dance as fun as possible and make sure they know what they are doing.”

LaBrie said the hope is to continue the junior show choir camp again next year.

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