Volunteers help keep school choir alive

Students in the Miramar Ranch Elementary School Choir program show their smiles following one of their recent performances. (courtesy photo)

Volunteers help keep school choir alive

At the start of each fall and spring at Miramar Ranch Elementary School, third to fifth graders get the opportunity to embrace music through the school’s choir program, run by volunteers Heather Sadleir and Jill Herbold.

For Sadleir and Herbold, this isn’t new. The duo has been running the program for 15 years.

Herbold said it all began when she decided to use her piano skills to get more involved with her second-grade daughter’s school. This year, that same daughter finished her freshman year of college.

“Every year the kids ask us, ‘Are you coming back next year?’” Herbold said. “It’s just so nice to see how excited they are when choir starts on the first week they come back.”

Choir programs in the San Diego Unified School District are not funded by the district. At Miramar Ranch, this means parents must pay $80 to the school’s Family Faculty Association to fund to program, Sadleir said.

The program gets by, but Sadleir and Herbold will always be unpaid volunteers.

“Every single cent that goes into the program, if we don’t accrue it for next semester, it’s flushed back into the system,” Sadleir said. “We try to do it top notch for these students.”

Herbold said the lack of pay has never been an issue for her because, without their work, the school wouldn’t have a choir program at all.

“I can’t imagine not having music at this age,” Herbold said. “It’s such a good foundation for life.”

Sadleir said the students really showed off the hard work that goes into the choir program at their end-of-the-year performance on the last week of May. This time around, the students sung tunes from Disney’s “Teen Beach Movie,” along with songs about summertime and promoting into the next school year.

“I usually am emotional because I can’t believe how they’re able to just pull it off and make it sound really good,” Sadleir said.

For parents who are interested in enrolling their kids in the choir program at Miramar Ranch Elementary School, Sadleir said, enrollment is on a first come, first served basis and is generally capped at about 30 kids. Students must be in the third to fifth grade at Miramar Ranch and there is an $80 fee to enroll. Parents should look out for an email if they want their children in the program, or contact the school when classes begin in August.

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