COURTESY OF SACRED HEARTS ACADEMY
Members of the All-State Honor Choir prepare for their first appearance at New York City's famed Carnegie Hall. Students from Sacred Hearts include members of the Intermediate, Select and Concert Choirs. Choir members will be accompanied by choir director Joanna Takagi and accompanist Phil Hidalgo.
Carnegie Hall date thrills choir
The June performance in New York means a first-ever mainland trip for some students
This year, for the first time, Sacred Hearts Academy choir members will be singing at Carnegie Hall in New York City during the first week of June, accompanied by director Joanna Takagi and accompanist Phil Hidalgo.
Sacred Hearts Academy
Cydrienne Llamas, Rachel Magaoay and Malori Mindo
3253 Waialae Ave.,
Head of School
"To sing at Carnegie Hall, we first sent in an audition tape of one of our concerts," Takagi said. "We were very pleased and excited when we were accepted!"
Academy students will join with other school choirs from around the country to rehearse, enjoy fellowship and present a final performance in Carnegie Hall.
Choral music has been part of the Academy tradition since the early 1930s, when the first formal choir was formed to enhance students' classical music knowledge and performance for social refinement.
The current Academy choirs are led by Takagi, also one of the directors for the Honolulu Opera Theatre's Youth Chorus. Three years ago, Takagi had 80 students. Today, with five different levels, including preparatory, beginning, intermediate, concert and select choirs, approximately 120 girls are involved.
"I joined the choir two years ago because I've always loved music, partly because of my father's influence; he loves to play his ukulele and guitar," senior Dionne Rodrigues said. "We are introduced to various types of music and given multiple opportunities to perform and perfect our skills as singers."
Eleven Academy students were recently chosen for the 2006 Hawaii All-State High School Honor Choir.
"In this All-State Choir, we learned challenging music, practiced on Saturdays for four hours and performed at Kawaiahao Church on Jan. 22," freshman Jessica Calventas said.
"Passing the All-State Honor Choir audition was truly rewarding. Singing takes a lot of time and practice, but it pays off when we are able to give a memorable and successful performance," sophomore Karring Yee said.
School choirs annually perform in a Christmas and spring concert. They also take part in three choral festivals hosted by the Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus and the American Choral Directors' Association and perform at malls, private functions and the annual Kawaiolaonapukanileo music festival.
Choir members hope to be ambassadors of the Hawaiian culture, with plans to wear traditional muumuus and incorporate hula and Hawaiian songs into their Carnegie Hall performances.
"This will be a great opportunity for us not only to visit many points of interest from America's history and attractions such as the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and the Museum of Modern Art, but also to see a couple of Broadway musicals," said sophomore Anne Rabacal. "I'm so excited because I've never been to the mainland United States!"
To help pay for the trip to New York, the choir will be performing at a fundraiser dinner-concert on Saturday, March 11. Choir members also plan to sell chili tickets and sponsor car washes.
"I am thrilled about this opportunity. Carnegie Hall is the Mecca of performing arts -- seeing the East Coast is an added bonus," freshman Kimberly Lynch said. "Watch out, New York! Here we come!"
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Intern to combine school, Senate
Junior Juliana Ho hopes her experience will help launch a career in politics
School early every morning, work until late every night. An intense schedule awaits junior Juliana Ho, who was selected for an internship as a U.S. Senate page in Washington, D.C.
"My responsibilities will include setting up the prep rooms, taking notes for senators and delivering bills and amendments to the various senators," Ho said. "Since Hawaii's two senators are Democrats, I will be working only with them and their Democratic colleagues."
During the spring semester, Ho will work with 29 other students, ages 16 to 17, who were selected by senators across the country.
Such an opportunity was not to be missed by Ho, who has long been interested in politics.
"After my mom heard about this program from one of her friends, we went online to see the Web site and called the senators' offices to get more information," Ho said. "I wrote letters to our senators explaining why I wanted to be considered for a Senate page, and I was so fortunate to be chosen."
Though working for the senators is her main duty, Ho must still attend classes.
"School is five days a week from 6:15 to 9:30 a.m.," Ho said. "Our school is located in Daniel Webster Hall, which is where our living quarters are."
This opportunity also comes with financial costs.
"Like in college, I have to pay for my expenses. The job does not cover my airfare, housing, food and spending money. However, I am given a stipend of $19,800, and this stipend will help defray all my costs," she said.
Her demanding schedule as a Senate page is not a concern.
"Although the day begins at 6:15 and can go till late in the evening, if the day is too long, school is canceled the next day," she said. "Still, I get free time on the weekends to catch up."
With all the excitement, though, Ho has a few concerns.
"I will miss my junior prom," Ho said. "That's a little disappointing since my friends and I have talking about this since freshman year, but I know I'll have my senior prom. When I think about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, missing my prom seems like a small sacrifice.
"And my family -- I'll miss my family and friends a lot," Ho continued. "But I've always been interested in politics since I was young. Although political life is difficult, politicians deal with making decisions that affect people's lives, my life.
"I want to live in Washington and see the nation's most powerful leaders and work; it's the beginning of a journey that will hopefully lead me to a political position someday."
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"What is the best thing about Sacred Hearts Academy?"
"Sacred Hearts really encourages students to work hard and pursue further study after graduation. It helps students build leadership abilities and gain confidence. The environment helps me to be my true self."
"I enjoy wearing the uniform. I also take pride in the values the school stands for, and I feel a desire and responsibility to uphold its standards."
"The Academy encourages us to reach out to the community through service projects and extracurricular activities, which gives us a perspective about the world at large."
"The best thing is the close relationships students have with teachers and classmates. We not only are able to talk about school but about problems we may be having outside of school."
"My teachers here have a passion for learning. They do more than just teach; they encourage us to reach for our dreams and nurture us into becoming adults."