Last Friday, Dec. 14, I travelled with 155 students, five choir directors and 34 parents for our annual trip to sing at the Arizona State Capitol as part of the Choirs at the Capitol concert series.

We’ve been doing this for about a dozen years now and it just gets better every year. This was the largest group we’ve ever taken and we are the largest group performing (as well as the one traveling the farthest).

We’ve been working with the students since August getting ready at Bracker, Challenger, Lincoln, Mitchell and Welty elementary schools. The five directors, Haydn Castleton, Larry Frederick, Kay Jorden, Fred Milner and David Moehlman, taught the choirs songs in English, Spanish, German and an obscure language called Ladino. County Superintendent Alfredo Velazquez generously provided comfortable Greyline touring buses so that we travelled up and back in comfort and style. The administration of Nogales Unified School District provided matching red choir shirts and treated us all to a wonderful lunch and private organ concert at Organ Stop Pizza.

It was an amazing day, full of music, laughter and fun. School board members Barbara Mendoza, Manuel Ruiz and Marcelino Varona, Jr. drove up to see us, as did Student Services Director Judith Mendoza-Jimenez and Human Resources Director Mayra Zuniga. State Rep. Rosanna Gabaldon came up from Tucson to cheer us on, as did State Sen. Andrea Dalessandro, who also brought water for all the students and joined us for lunch (an annual tradition now).

This kind of love and support for our kids is not typical or expected. It is the work and dedication of people who go above and beyond what is expected to provide exceptional opportunities to the children of our community.

It is a great and special privilege to be able to work with so many talented, compassionate and generous people as I watch young hearts and minds open up to  the joy of music – something that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Larry Frederick

Music teacher, Lincoln Elementary School, Nogales

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