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‘We will sing together’: Utah high school choir director finds way to bring back the music

Posted at 9:12 PM, Aug 21, 2020

HERRIMAN, Utah — The halls of Mountain Ridge High have sat mostly empty since school moved online in March due to COVID-19.

A place that’s rarely quiet — choir director Kelly DeHaan’s classroom — hasn’t been filled with the sound of kids singing in many months. That will change Monday.

“I’ve been praying that it would be possible. We’ve all been holding out all summer long for this day to arrive,” he said excitedly.

It hasn’t been easy finding a way to bring back the music, but DeHaan has been hard at work.

“We are doing everything we can, everything to keep it going,” he said.

Chairs are spaced apart, there will be temperature and symptom checks, and masks must stay on. Pictures of the students are taped on their assigned chairs.

“I put pictures on the chairs so they will know who else they are cleaning that chair for, because I want them to feel some ownership,” DeHaan said.

There are strict protocols in place so the kids and DeHaan can do what they love to do: sing.

“Being together and making music together gives these kids something that you can’t label,” he said.

When school went virtual, DeHaan found ways to connect with his students, including writing a song for his seniors and even finding unique ways to get the students involved. But it hasn’t been the same, DeHaan admits.

“I have been empty since March because really my life is filled by reaching out to kids and teaching them and making music happen with these kids,” he said.

The arts give many kids a sense of belonging and helps their self-esteem, DeHaan said.

“It gives them a sense of who they are and fitting into a community. It gives them an ability to share of themselves as they go out into the community to sing,” he said.

Schools begins the week of Aug. 24 for the Jordan School District.

For more information on the Jordan School District’s re-opening plans, click here.

For more information on safety protocols for schools, click here.