Twenty-six Grand Forks middle and high school students auditioned and have been selected for the North Dakota American Choral Directors Association Middle Level Honors Choir.

Last fall, 403 students in grades 7, 8 and 9 from 51 schools throughout North Dakota submitted auditions, vying for 190 singing slots and 60 alternate positions.

They were selected to participate in a day-long virtual Zoom session, held Feb. 5, which allowed them to work with and learn from clinicians and artists who are pursuing a career or achieved fame in a music career. Normally, students would gather in a North Dakota city for workshops and a concert performance, but the pandemic made only a virtual gathering possible, said Geoff Mercer, music teacher at Grand Forks Central High School.

The students were selected by judges who are ACDA members and most, if not all, are located out of state, including some who are university music teachers, according to Mercer.

In the Feb. 5 Zoom session, students interacted with composers and performers with ties to North Dakota, including Tigirlily, Kat Perkins and Jocelyn Hagen, as well as national artists Tim Takash, Six Appeal and Ben Folds in concerts and workshops.

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“It was neat for our kids to see recording artists, some from the same classrooms that these kids are sitting in now,” said Mercer, who helped to organize the event. "(Students learned) about their life as an artist and the process they use to compose music.

"(The artist) would talk a bit, then sing one of their songs, and then the kids could ask questions,” said Mercer, adding that the message students received that it is important to be persistent in following a dream.

The program included the presentation of a video to recognize students who have auditioned and been selected for the Honors Choir in each of the three years of eligibility, grades 7 through 9.

To have 26 students successfully audition for the Honors Choir is due to the work of Grand Forks middle school teachers and their “emphasis on music at that level,” Mercer said.

The following students were selected for the Honor Choir’s Treble Choir: from Grand Forks Central High School -- Ellen Berry, Gabrielle Cormier, Aria Kindseth, Emma Stevenson and Madelyn Trapnell; from Red River High School -- Amirah Hurst and Reilly McIntosh; from Valley Middle School - Miranda Bry; and from Schroeder Middle School -- Jocelyn Dawes and Zoe Serna.

The following students were selected for the Honors Choir’s Mixed Choir: from Red River High School -- Cami Antonenko, Ginny Hutton, Brian Rains, Jacob Sibley and Bobby Wek; from Grand Forks Central High School -- Hanson Du, Keira Knabe and Tommy Mercer; from Valley Middle School -- Jack Berry, Joshua Kliner, Theo Sum and Adam Thorvilson; and from Schroeder Middle School -- Addie Foley, Hailey Kalis, Bryn Larson and Oakley Oss.

Selected as alternates were Benjamin Dusenbury and Jacob Wood, Red River High School; Alyssa Gangelhoff, Grand Forks Central High School; Emma Lyste, Schroeder Middle School; and Berlyn Stewart, South Middle School.