West Las Vegas choir takes state

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By Don Pace

West Las Vegas High School Principal Gene Parson said the 2009 State Champion Honors Choir has again proved, beyond a doubt, that it is the best in the area and possibly the state.

The Honors Choir, directed by Arnell David Arellanes, recently met the difficult challenge of defending last year’s state title and returned home as back-to-back state champions. Besides winning the blue trophy in district 3A, the choir placed in the top five in all categories, A through AAAAA. 

Through the pick-of-the-draw the West choir was the first choral group to perform at the state competition, which Parson said meant they had to set the standard for all other choral groups. 

Senior Michael Rascon said, “It feels really good to achieve our goal, not only once, but twice and leave high school with another state championship.”

Senior David Maestas said, “I feel honored to be a part of this group, and I’m confident that for the next two and a half months. The remainder of our time in high school, we are going to continue to do amazing things. We are looking forward to our show at Ilfeld where we will be performing songs from a number of musicals, which is exciting because we have students acting as directors. Right now, we are working on the choreography, which is a lot more difficult than what we did at state, and we’re really working to make it an exceptional evening.” 

The choir will bring Broadway to Ilfeld Auditorium with two evening performances at 7 p.m. May 14 and 15.

“We will be presenting Broadway Musical II, which will include music from ‘Miss Saigon,’ ‘Little Shop of Horrors,’ ‘West Side Story,’ ‘Les Miserables’ and ‘Chorus Line.’ The first night, the middle school and Honors Choir will be on stage and the second evening ,the Symphonic Choir and Honors Choir will present music with a little more of a mature theme,” Arellanes said.

Arellanes said last year more than 80 people were turned away because the auditorium had reached capacity, “but this year we are going for two nights in hopes that we will not have to turn anyone away. But each night the programs are going to be different, so there are going to be many people who want to go see both programs. Hopefully people will get their tickets in advance.”

All of the members of the Honors Choir said they were proud of their accomplishments over the last couple of years, but senior John Armijo has yet another story to tell: He is among the best of the best in both music and athletics.

“Throughout all the years of high school, I never really got my chance at a state title, but in less than a week, I became a state champion in wrestling and a state champion in choir. This is something I’ve been waiting my whole high school career for, so this is pretty exciting,” Armijo said.

He said he’s spoken to a college in Nebraska that is interested in recruiting him for its wrestling team, but he would like to stay in Las Vegas and wrestle for Highlands University.  

Arellanes said this is a bittersweet year for him personally because this year’s seniors were sixth-graders when he started the choral program at the West district.

“Every year it’s hard to lose our seniors, but this year it’s especially hard for me because they are students who started with me way back when, and I feel a strong attachment to this group that will be graduating. But we will continue. We may change the direction of our program to accommodate the strengths of students who are coming up. We are in good shape now and will be for many years to come,” Arellanes said.

Arellanes said even though he will miss the students who are graduating in 2009, he feels confident that they received a musical education at West that will serve them well for a long time.

He said many of this years seniors have already been offered full scholarships to universities around the country.