It was a rootin’-tootin’ time at Carroll’s Corral and Cookout over the weekend.
Burbank High School’s Vocal Music Assn. volunteers saddled up for a Western-themed fundraising dinner featuring singing and dancing by students in teacher Brett Carroll’s choir classes — thus the event’s name.
The parents cooked up spicy chili — meat or vegetarian– and served it with cornbread smeared with honey butter and garden salad. Students bustled around taking food orders, delivering plates and bussing tables. The Impressions choir baked brownies and chocolate chip and sugar cookies for dessert.
For $5 a basket, friends and family could purchase fricles — deep-fried battered pickles — that could be dipped in a creamy sauce.
About 500 relatives and friends attended the Friday and Saturday night events held in the school’s outdoor lunch shelter, said Rima Shideler, who serves as co-president of the association with her husband, Ray.
Students, who were dressed in jeans, plaid shirts, boots and white aprons, left the tables they were waiting on to sing Western songs on risers set up on one side of the shelter. The boys wore cowboy hats and the girls tied red bandanas around their heads. They had personalized their aprons with their names and painted designs.
Rima Shideler expects to raise more than last year’s $11,000 from the two-night event, which will go to defray the total budget — between $400,000 to $500,000 — to go to competitions this year. The budget covers such costs as paying for choreographers, band members, music arrangers, sound and lighting technicians and costumes.
“Our kids have three costumes for their competition set,” she said.
Proceeds from fundraisers also go to scholarships for students who cannot afford to participate in the program, she said.
Student groups performing in the Carroll’s Corral were Out of the Blue intermediate mixed choir, Impressions advanced women’s choir, In Sync advanced mixed choir, Sound Dogs men’s choir, Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and a cappella groups the Sirens women’s choir and the Gentlemen’s Octet. Musical selections varied from the melancholy “Desperado” to the exuberant “Oklahoma.”
The theme was changed from Italian to Western, so the students had only three weeks to rehearse new material, Rima Shideler said.
“Kids rise to the ability that you allow them to rise to, so when you give them a challenge and you push them, they really do it,” she said. “And if they love it, which they do, they really do it! I think sometimes we underestimate our children by not wanting to put them in so many activities. But I think that when you give them a lot to do, they are bright, they’re young, they’re still like sponges, they can take on so much more than we can, and they just do it so well.”
Her son, Raymond, 17, a senior, sings with In Sync, Sound Dogs and the Gentlemen’s Octet.
His favorite part of the show is performing with the Gentlemen’s Octet, which allows the young men freedom to showcase their humor and personalities.
“It is always so fun to just be up there with eight guys. We mess around and have fun,” he said.
The a cappella group was one of the live auction prizes, and three people paid $450 each to have the group perform at their private parties. The funds will go to the association.
“We were all very happy about that,” Raymond said. “It was a big accomplishment for us. Our goal was to clear the $1,000 mark and we did. So we were all very excited.”
The fundraiser was a better opportunity to connect with the audience, Raymond said.
“It’s so fun to walk through the audience and see parents of students who have already graduated that are still coming back to support us and kids who have graduated come back to support us and you see a lot of familiar faces interacting with the public like that,” he said. “But at the same time, you also meet a lot of new people that you will see at future events, and it’s beneficial because the audiences remember you and feel more of a connection to us.”
Raymond’s private vocal coach, Joyce Warman, attended the fundraiser with her four grandchildren ages 2 to 10. She coaches a lot of the students in the choirs at Burbank High and Burroughs.
“I just love that they have all these opportunities to perform as well as it teaches them self-discipline, time management and team building skills,” she said adding that it also allows the parents to share in a project with their kids through attending competitions and helping with fundraisers.
“I thought this was a fun fundraiser,” Warman said. “The two-year-old loved it. She clapped and danced. It was so entertaining. And I thought the moms did an amazing job with the food!”
While the musical training and education is wonderful, what is even more exciting is the life lessons these young people are learning through the program, said choir teacher Brett Carroll
“They are learning how to engage and interact with adults in appropriate and positive ways, how to serve others, and how to be a part of a team working towards a common goal,” he said.
“Studies have shown that most people’s number one fear is public speaking. If we can get our students to grow in confidence and learn to engage — then we can expect our students to have more productive and successful lives as adults. It’s exciting to be able to use music as a vehicle to prepare our students for success!”
The next fundraiser, which pulls in the most money to pay for the choral program, is the Night of Magic set for Nov. 9 at Pickwick Banquet Center. The cost is $80 per person and that includes dinner, silent and live auctions and musical performances by the students. To purchase tickets, contact Kristin@mediacitychurch.com.