West Las Vegas Principal Gene Parson calls them “The Heavenly Choir of Angels” when speaking about the school’s award-winning Honors Choir, which just returned from a first-ever state choir competition in Albuquerque.
“Seeing Arnell David Arellanes and the West Las Vegas Choir going and competing against some of the top-notch programs in the state and then doing extremely well just makes me so happy,” Parson said.
He said one of his proudest moments was watching West students receive a standing ovation from the audience and contemporaries from around the state.
Parson said he has always supported the music programs at his school.
“Maybe because I’m a former musician, but I do think we need music in our schools. You have to have a higher order of thinking skills to participate and at the same time keep up your academics.”
Parson complimented the New Mexico Activities Association for putting together a state choir competition that has the same footing as football, basketball, and other sports and activities.
“I am so excited for this group, not only did the Honors Choir bring home a first-place trophy, they impressed the judges so much they received a superior rating and received a stand-alone trophy for excellence. It doesn’t get any better than that. Out of the 23 schools that competed and 25 schools that were represented, we had the fourth highest score, with only a few scoring points separating from the first place,” Parson said.
He said judges from Delaware, Texas and Colorado had no preconceived notions and judged the choirs on talent alone.
Arellanes said after returning home from the competition, he has been overwhelmed with phone calls and visitors offering congratulations.
“I feel exceptionally proud of what they’ve accomplished and even more so the respect they brought to the community in the way people from around the state saw our students behave, show respect and consideration for every other group. It was quite an incredible weekend,” Arellanes said.
Arellanes said his students made history as they competed in and won the state title in the inaugural state choir contest.
“Our school received a higher score than most of the 4A and 5A schools, so this was really a great accomplishment from the students, who are now floating in the clouds. Today they were the first students at school, and they all wore their state champion T-shirts,” Arellanes said.
During an assembly honoring the state title holders, choir member Cassandra Garley held the trophy for everyone to see.
“It’s awesome, a great feeling. We had a blast at the competition, and we just did our best, and hey it turned out great.”
Fellow choir member Justin Armijo, cradling the superior performance award, said, “We did well, we got the state championship, which I’m sure we have deserved for a while, and I’m so happy to have it now after competing with the best choirs in New Mexico. It’s an honor.”
Arellanes noted the great support the choir received from the school, saying that Parson was the only administrator out of all participating schools who was present for the performance and awards ceremony.
Arellanes said that more than anything else, it’s important that people understand that it’s a bigger picture than the choir winning the state championship.
“It’s about drawing attention to the fine arts and choral music in particular and the importance it has to the overall curriculum. If we do not invest in the fine arts, we are changing the course of the quality of education as a whole,” Arellanes said. He said for 26 years he has been championing the importance of fine arts in the nation’s schools.
Arellanes said the West Choir has just been invited to perform for the State Opera Guild Convention at the United World College on March 18.
The state champion choir plans to perform at 7 p.m. May 5 at Highlands University’s Ilfeld Auditorium.