In early November, 25 McPherson High School Choir Students auditioned for the South Central Kansas Music Educators District Honor Choir with hopes of scoring high enough to eventually be selected for the KMEA All-State Choir. Each student had to prepare three excerpts from three different choral pieces for a live audition. A panel of three judges per voice part scored each audition and then the scores were tabulated.

In the South Central KMEA District, there were nearly 900 high school choir students who auditioned for only 248 spots. After all of the tabulating McPherson High School was represented well with 14 selections — a record for at least the last couple decades.

“What makes being selected for the Kansas All-State Choir such a special honor, is that students compete across the school classification lines.  They have the beat out the best singers in their district regardless of 1A - 6A classification, and they have to score high enough to be the top 5 or 6 percent in their room on district audition day. Additionally, there are only 250 singers that make the Kansas All-State Choir.  Our state chair reported this year some 3,000 students auditioned for those 250 spots state-wide,” said Nicholas Griggs, McPherson High School vocal music director. “In other words, only 8 percent of the 3,000 students that auditioned state-wide make the Kansas All-State Choir.”

Those students selected for the SCKMEA District Honor Choir were:

— Ashley Achilles, Alto 2

— Tara Almquist, Alto 1

— Darrius Armstrong, Tenor 2

— Kari Ellet, Alto 1

— Allison Fincher, Alto 2

— Addie Fitzmorris, Alto 2

— Makayla Lacey, Alto 1

— Katelyn Martin, Soprano 2

— Lily Parker, Soprano 2

— Kolbi Partain, Alto 2

— Jenna Shanks, Alto 2

— Josie Strathman, Soprano 2

— Kaliah Tice, Alto 2

— Paige Unruh, Soprano 2 

It is a requirement that all selected choir students participate in the SCKMEA District Honor Choir Day to remain eligible for the Kansas All-State Choir. The students selected for districts are split up into two honor choirs — Mixed Honor Choir and Women's Honor Choir. They get to work with clinicians representing the best choral directors in our country and prepare and perform two concerts.

At the conclusion of the district day, the final tabulations are done for the students representing the Kansas All-State Choir from the South Central District. The list is submitted and then the State Choir Chair compiles the top students from the six districts in the state and posts the All-State Choir Roster.

“To have five students representing McPherson High School in the Kansas All-State Choir is truly exceptional. It is so rare it hasn't been done in decades and if it were possible to do the research it may confirm that it has never been done in McPherson High School's history.” Griggs said.

There were five McPherson High School students selected for this year's All-State Choir:

— Tara Almquist, Senior, Alto 1

— Darrius Armstrong, Senior, Tenor 2

— Kari Ellet, Junior, Alto 1

— Jenna Shanks, Sophomore, Alto 2

— Josie Strathman, Sophomore, Soprano 2

Junior Kari Ellet, has now been selected for the Kansas All-State Choir twice. She has the rare opportunity to be selected for a third consecutive time should she be selected next year. That honor is one of the most prestigious honors a high school choir student can receive in Kansas. Ellet, Jenna Shanks, and Josie Strathman are also eligible to audition for the 2018 National Honor Choir later this spring.

“It is a special time in McPherson High School's Vocal Department and we're excited for all of their hard-work to be represented the way it has these past recent years. We are gearing up for a rigorous contest season and hope to keep up with the successes we've enjoyed at all of the KSHSAA Regional & State Competitions,” Griggs said.