By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
Northborough/Southborough – The newly formed Unified Singing Club at Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS) gives students of all singing skill levels the opportunity to participate in a singing club without the competitiveness of auditioning for limited spots in a chorus. The club’s focus is on collaboration and joy.
Junior Anelise Merrihew is the inspiration behind the group and is extremely excited to see this group progressing this year. With the support of her mother and local singer and songwriter Lori Diamond, the concept of the group was introduced to the school last year. Although the idea was well received, the challenge was finding a faculty member available to become the official advisor.
“We needed faculty to be on board just so the idea could come into fruition,” Diamond said.
After many months, Department Coach for the Instructional Student Support Department Felicia Rutigliano stepped into the role of advisor.
“She loved the idea when it was presented to her and she has a great enthusiasm for music,” said Diamond.
Ideally, Diamond would like to have the group led by a choral director, but for now she is focusing on organizing the group and building momentum. She views her role as the interim choral director as a gift to be able to watch it all unfold.
By taking the competitive nature out of the mix, the club provides an enriching, equal access musical opportunity that did not exist.
Merrihew is a member of Concert Choir during the school day and takes pride in the quality of her singing. She sings for the joy of singing, and invites other students who feel the same way to join the club.
“I want everyone to be able to join,” she said. “I think the other groups might be too intense.”
Each afterschool meeting begins with choosing appropriate songs for the group to sing.
“It’s creative and it’s relaxed,” said Diamond. “Most of all, it’s fun! At the first meeting, everyone was singing, smiling and helping each other with lyrics. The energy was joyous and it almost felt like a party.”
The ultimate goal is to have this club actually integrated into the school music program so students can perform in front of a broad audience. For now, Diamond said the club will be creative in finding performance opportunities.
“The club is new and this is only the beginning,” she said. “It’s a wonderful group of kind, positive students who happen to be fantastic singers. We will see where the students want to go with this. We will celebrate one success at a time.”
Merrihew’s goal is to have the club be a permanent presence long after she graduates.
The Unified Singing Club meets at the high school on Tuesday afternoons. ARHS students interested in joining can contact Felecia Rutigliano at [email protected] or Lori Diamond at [email protected]. Students can join at any point in the academic year.