Choir students Jenna Croymans and Mattie Zerr received invitations to participate in the American High School Honors Performance Series in February in New York City. Croymans and Zerr are among roughly 100 students from across the country and Canada to be selected.
"We're excited about this and glad that we'll be able share this experience together," Zerr said. "We've been singing together since we were 6 years old."
To be considered for the performance series, students must submit an application and audition tape. Croymans and Zerr did so this summer following their participation in All-State Chorus last school year. Camille Fischer, Roncalli's K-12 vocal instructor, encouraged and nominated the two to submit applications.
"They're both very talented," Fischer said. "But they're also very hardworking and dedicated students. Watching them grow as music students has been wonderful, and it's very clear they're passionate about music."
The students, now juniors, agree that music has played a huge role in their lives.
"For me, choir was one of those things that my parents put me in, and it stuck," Croymans said. "I've enjoyed singing. I have since an early age."
Fischer instructed Croymans and Zerr during their days in the children's choir at St. Mary's Catholic Church, and again in the junior high. Fischer is also Zerr's aunt. Fischer said when it comes to their voices, each student has her own unique sound. Croymans sings alto, while Zerr is a soprano.
"They've each put in a lot of work to get where they are today," Fischer said.
While in New York, the students said they plan to take advantage of working with prestigious conductors and other students who are just as passionate about music.
"We both realize this is probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Croymans added. "And it's an opportunity for each of us to improve."
"We want people to know, especially other students here, that you can be successful and do special things with the arts programs we have here," Zerr said.
Croymans and Zerr said they don't have any butterflies about performing in the famed Carnegie Hall. They said they're accustomed to performing for big crowds. Both have sung the national anthem for local and state events.
While the students' main focus of the five-day trip will be on performance preparation, they will be allowed to experience sights and attractions in New York City. During the trip, they'll take in a Broadway show, visit landmarks and attend a nationally televised morning show.
This opportunity does come with expenses; however, the two said they'll likely take on fundraising projects to help with costs. Students pay for transportation and lodging.
As for preparation for their trip, the students said they'll be receiving the performance music in January.
"I'm excited about that," Croymans said. "I know it will be tough selections, but we'll be ready."
Fischer said her students will spend some time preparing before they leave.
"I have a lot of confidence in these girls," Fischer said. "I know they will do great in New York, and represent Roncalli well."