Jefferson show choir to attend Fame competition in Chicago

School principal had initially decided to deny request, but superintendent asked for review

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UPDATE: Cedar Rapids Community School District administrators are finally singing West Side Delegation’s tune.

According to an announcement released Wednesday, Jefferson High School’s show choir will be allowed to compete in the FAME Show Choir National Championship, scheduled for Friday, April 26 and Saturday, April 27 in Chicago.

“I’m pleased that that’s the outcome and that we have the support of our administration,” said Amy Homan, parent of two West Side Delegation students and president of Jefferson’s choral auxiliary. “I’m glad that they were able to go back and look at things and admit that they can support this effort.”

It’s been a long journey to Chicago for the choir. In late March, citing financial concerns and conflicts with other activities and events, Jefferson Principal Charles McDonnell denied director Kent Keating’s request for the students to perform at the competition. Superintendent Dave Benson stepped in to review the decision and Keating was given final say.

He discussed scheduling issues with FAME organizers and worked with the choir to alter its choreography in light of the West Side Delegation performers opting out of the competition in favor of other commitments, such as prom.

After a successful rehearsal on Monday, Keating decided the new show would be ready for the national event.

“I’m very happy for the kids who wanted to go,” said B.J. Franklin, mother of a West Side Delegation performer. “They deserve to be able to go. They worked hard for it. It should’ve been their decision from the beginning.”

Boosters are currently raising money for transportation fees and exploring cost-free housing options for the students’ Chicago stay.

Here's the news release from the district:

The Jefferson High School Westside Delegation (WSD) Show Choir will attend the FAME Show Choir National Competition on April 26-27 in Chicago.

“We met with those students who are able to attend and determined that re-blocking the show would be doable,” said Kent Keating, director. “The students are very positive about the process and have been working very hard. We are all looking forward to continuing to rehearse as we polish the performance.”

The FAME performance schedule has not yet been announced but Keating expects WSD to be scheduled late in the day as FAME organizers have agreed to help accommodate the participation of ensemble members who are also involved in the National Academic Decathlon competition  in Minneapolis.

All expenses for the WSD trip will be covered. FAME is paying for hotel expenses and registration fees and choir boosters and donations are covering busing and transportation costs. Since the event conflicts with the Jefferson High School prom, Washington High School will welcome the WSD members to attend their prom on April 20 as an alternative date.

Jefferson qualified for the national show choir event at competition held in Orlando over spring break in March.

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