Hawes students ready to shine at Bella Terra

The Hawes Elementary School choir is set to spread some holiday cheer in Huntington Beach.

The Hawes Hawks Choir will sing a medley of songs at the amphitheater in the Bella Terra shopping center at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

Fourth-grade teacher Shannon Sovern said the students will perform a 30-minute set of about 10 songs, depending on how prepared the youngsters are the day of the concert.

"One [song's] a little rusty, so we might cut it," she said with a laugh.

The songs aren't the usual popular favorites many people have come to know, Sovern said. Instead, she's drawn from a holiday resource guide of children-friendly songs.

"I feel like they grow up so fast, let's leave the pop music to when they get to middle school and high school," she said. "I just enjoy doing these songs that are made for their grade level and voice level."

The choir is an extracurricular activity that Sovern began six years ago at Hawes. She teaches about 60 students, ranging from first to fifth grade. They learn various songs and practice singing for 30 minutes before school starts at 8:25 a.m.

Sovern said the children are well-behaved and enthusiastic about singing, but the number of students has dropped since the beginning of the school year because of the early start time.

"It's above and beyond school and it's early in the morning," Sovern said. "That's a hard thing for them to overcome, making that commitment to get up early and come every single week. But once they're here, they enjoy it and love it."

Sovern previously taught in the Apple Valley Unified School District and had a choir class there before joining the Huntington Beach City School District seven years ago. Upon arriving at Hawes, she noticed the school didn't have such a class and asked Principal Julie Jennings if she could start one.

"She gave me the go-ahead and we've been doing it, and it's just been growing every single year," Sovern said.

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