By Ingrid Howard
When Homewood High School competed in the Mississippi State Show Choir Contest on Feb. 2, all three of the school’s show choir groups advanced to the final round.
Jason Thorne, the show choir director, said this is almost unheard of.
“It’s only ever happened one other time that I know of in the nation,” he said. “And that was us in 2013. Most schools don’t have three competitive groups.”
Homewood’s three groups include the top group – also known as The Network – the girls group and the prep group. The top group won first place after the final round, the girls group came in fifth, and the prep group came in fourth.
Unlike a regular choir performance, the show choir’s competition performance is an 18-minute show based on a theme.
“And they have all kind of extravagant costumes and costume changes within the show,” Thorne said.
Inspired by the students who spoke up after the Parkland shooting in Florida last year, Thorne decided that this year’s theme for The Network would be about encouraging students to speak up and use their voices.
“After the Parkland shooting, I saw those kids standing up and saying what they believed,” he said. “And they believed in a cause. And I just thought, ‘Wow. That’s really cool that they’re doing that.’ And then I started seeing adults in the media bashing them. … I think we as adults discount kids’ opinions and their thoughts.”
Thorne said that this is not a political show but that he wants to encourage his students to know there will be opposition to their voices if they use them. But that opposition doesn’t make their voices unimportant, he said.
“I want them to leave me and not just remember music or the dance part of it,” he said. “But I want them to have something that they can kind of go, ‘You know what? My voice does count.’”
The show The Network has been performing this year begins with “One Voice,” by Barry Manilow. Other songs in the show include “Land of Confusion,” by Genisis, and “I Dreamed a Dream,” from the musical “Les Misérables.” The show includes a positive force of “dreamers,” and there is a negative force that tries to silence them.
“We teachers are teaching the next leaders, and we’ve got to take them seriously,” Thorne said. “It’s important.”
The girls group, Legacy, has been performing a show with a theme based on the idea that the Wizard of Oz might think the grass is greener on the other side, but often home is where happiness is found.
The Associate, the prep group, has been performing a show about reaching for your goals, opening with “Go the Distance” from Disney’s “Hercules.”