Administrators looking for ways to jump start school choir


Music teacher Caitlin Malarkey

From staff reports

As Cleveland’s music program continues to expand, students are beginning to take notice that one particular component is missing: a school choir. For students who want to participate in music but have no interest in playing an instrument, the lack of having a choir is upsetting.

Music teacher Caitlin Malarkey said the program was discontinued because of funding. The school had a choir last year, when a community volunteer stepped in to lead the group. Since the job was on a voluntary basis, the choir director was not receiving a salary. Malarkey said the problem is one that covers the region.

“There is not enough funding to hire another choir teacher for here and another teacher for Aki, for Mercer and to hire a teacher for the K-8s,” Malarkey said. She admits she doesn’t have the proper training to teach the class herself.

Administrators may have found a way to fix the problem. They are looking to partner with The Creative Advantage, a community group whose aim is to restore access to the arts to all Seattle Public Schools. According to SoED Assistant Principal Ray Garcia Morales, the organization could be a potential funding source to hire a teacher as early as second semester.

“It’s a program that was piloted in the past in southwest Seattle …, now it’s coming into the southeast school district,” Garcia Morales said. “We will be receiving some funds second semester. I believe The Creative Advantage is giving us $3,500 for second semester.”

Garcia Morales said there was talk about the choir being an after school program, but that requires someone to volunteer their time.

There are steps students who may be interested in starting a choir can take to help get the program up and running faster. The requirement for organizing an after-school club is four signatures. Students also have Malarkey’s support.

“I’d be more than willing to help provide a space for an after-school club, and even a space to perform, too,” she said. Malarkey also offered to sponsor a choir club if students had the initiative to create it.

Staff reporter Jordan O’Neal contributed to this story.