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WEST SHAMOKIN: Didiano attends state chorus festival; students visit D.C.

by DJ HOUGH and VINCENT PASSERINI, Gazette Student News Reporters on April 25, 2014 11:00 AM

RURAL VALLEY — For the past couple of months Cathie Reefer, West Shamokin High School’s chorus teacher, has been preparing many of her students for the numerous festivals in the surrounding regions.

At last month’s Regional Chorus Festival, four talented students sang their hearts out to perform a spectacular show in Erie. After the nerve-wracking audition, Olyvia Didiano, one of the four students, found out that she had advanced to the state level.

“I was so shocked and excited,” Didiano said. “It took me a little bit to grasp the fact.”

It took Didiano at least an hour a day for two months to make it to the state level.

Being the first chorus student since 2008 to make it to this level, one would think that she would be nervous during the tryout.

In her interview, Didiano stated that she was not as nervous as she probably should have been. She stated she was “relaxed and did her best.”

Didiano was the second chair of four in her division who progressed to the state chorus. During the announcements of who had made it, Reefer said that she was extremely nervous. She said that as they announced the honorable mentions, Didiano was not in the list. Once they began announcing the chairs, Reefer became a nervous wreck.

“They said 8, 7, 6 … still no Olyvia, then 4, 3 … and finally she (Olyvia) was No. 2,” Reefer said laughing.

Reefer was “super excited” for Didiano for making it to states, especially since she missed last year’s festival by only six points. Reefer has had Didiano as a student for five years and is very proud of her and her accomplishments.

Before she had left for the festival, which was March 26-29, Didiano had said she was super excited for states, especially to see all of her regional chorus friends.

Although music is a big part of her life, she plans to study speech pathology at a good school after she graduates. West Shamokin and I would like to personally congratulate Didiano for making it to state chorus.

Students Travel to Washington, D.C.

On April 12, the West Shamokin High School National Honor Society took its annual trip to the nation’s capital led by NHS adviser Patty Yamrick.

While in D.C., the students viewed and toured a variety of sights and monuments including Mount Vernon, Arlington Cemetery, the Washington Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Pentagon, the WWII Memorial, Union Station and the White House.

[PHOTO: West Shamokin High School National Honor Society members stood in front of the Washington Monument on their annual trip to Washington, D.C. From left are Kelly Clowser, Tori Lowry, Austin Bussard, Kristen Templeton, Vincent Passerini, Brandon Schamberg, Kelsey Altman, Chris Schink, Hannah Skamai, Berea Longwell, Anna Skamai, Danielle Blatt, Bethany Petras, Ryan Myers, Elle Gandolfi, Jenny Yassem, Jenn Gabrielcik, Zane Clowser and Tristan Cribbs. (Submitted photo/West Shamokin High School)]

At Arlington Cemetery students saw the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and viewed more than 250,000 graves including those of John F. Kennedy and his family. At the White House, students witnessed a military helicopter land and take off in front of the White House.

The students could not have asked for a more beautiful day — temperatures reached over 80 degrees with no rain in sight and the cherry blossoms and dogwood blossoms were in full bloom.

Overall the students had an enjoyable and educational day.

[Alternate photo, click to view: West Shamokin seventh-grade teachers Sue Kaplon, social studies, and Karen Coulter, English, teamed up on a cross-curricular Native American research unit for their seventh grade students. IUP student teacher Amanda Siegfried was also a part of this project. In social studies, students conducted research and reflected on a day in the life of their tribe and created models. They turned their gathered information into a report for their English class. Pictured are, from left, in row one, Steven Schaeffer, Maddie Kephart, David Fleming, Cierra Dinger, Payton Rayko, Sydney Dailey, Elliot Cousins and Eric Perkin. Second row, Liam Alese, Sam Barker, Emma Fetchko, Tori Hawkins and Mikey Fouse; and standing, Caleb Mechling, Karen Coulter, Katie Crissman, Claire Walker, Katie Perry, Sue Kaplon, Carrie Slease, Marley Hockenberry, Lauren Montgomery, Natalie Ritcher, Jordyn Novak and Amanda Siegfried.  (Submitted photo/West Shamokin High School)]

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