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Students Welcome New Chorus Teacher


Advanced Choir students welcome Jessica Barkley, the new choir teacher by singing “Carol of the Bells.”


By Deborah Gardner

New choir teacher Jessica Barkley leads the 5th period advanced choir in a Christmas carol.

Jessica Barkley was substituting in for a choir teacher when suddenly a light bulb went off in her head. She remembers thinking “This is where I belong.”

Barkley started her new job as choir teacher on Oct. 17th, giving students a new permanent teacher for the school year. Barkley moved from Binghamton, New York, and although she is not used to seeing so many hills, she enjoys the quiet, country community of Prince George.

“Things are slower here, which is refreshing,” Barkley said. “There is a slower pace of life, and the weather is much nicer.”

Barkley has been an opera singer for over ten years now, starting from the time she was in college. For the past four years, she has taught a little bit of everything, including chorus and general music for grades K-12.

“I’ve been a musician for a long time,” Barkley said. “I started out as an opera singer and performer. Then I decided to go back to school for chorus education. After I did some substituting, a light bulb went off in my head. I knew what I wanted to do.”

Before Barkley started her job, the students had to figure out a way to learn music independently. Seniors Ashley Wilkes, A’marah Hawkins, Abria Humphries, and Jahmyah Garrett took on the role of becoming teachers. The choir students noticed that there was more pressure on the students to stay productive in their fifth block class.

“We had no one to make decisions for us; we had to make them ourselves and deal with the students’ opinions of them,” Humphries said.

Former choir teacher Danielle Morreti left music for the students to go over and rehearse. In an attempt to try to give students a way to enjoy the class and learn about one another, the class would play games to stay connected.

“My favorite was when we played hot potato because we learned something new about each other every time someone got the potato,” senior Edward Brazile said

Students outside of the choir class may have thought that the students in the music room were just fooling around since there was no formal teacher in the classroom, but the choir students were determined to be as prepared for their new teacher as possible.

`“We practiced new and old music; everything we knew. We did new warm-ups, went over singing techniques, and continued some of the things Ms. Morreti left us,” Hawkins said.

Once Barkley began her job, students quickly adjusted to her warm and caring character. While some students felt the class was learning without the need of a teacher, other choir students felt they were in desperate need of a one.

“We are just thankful to have a teacher. This is my first year in here and it was getting kind of boring without one,” senior Jamaal Gooden said.

Even though Barkley has only been teaching the fifth block class for a few weeks, she is already leaving a good impression on the choir class.

“She’s very professional and she encourages me to love music in a different way,” Hawkins said.

Barkley feels it is a key aspect to make sure students learn things they can use throughout their life.

“I feel it is my job to teach students how to sing properly and let them develop a love of singing independently,” Barkley said.

With teaching music being Barkley’s dream career, she has set goals for herself and is determined to reach those goals.

“My goals are to put on some wonderful concerts and to get to know the students and staff better,” Barkley said.

The fifth block choir class has many events they will be participating in this year and now that they finally have a teacher who is more than willing to help them, they plan on having extraordinary performances.

“We’re adjusting just fine. It’s only been a couple of days since she came, but we already feel like one big family,” Wilkes said.

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