Singing the Last Verses

Rock Ridge Sings pour out their best wishes to senior choir members as they perform their final concert of the year.


Alexis Cortés

Voces Virilis sings “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” arranged by Roger Emerson.

On May 18, Rock Ridge Sings, along with Stone Hill Chorus, performed their last concert of the year. They started off strong with the entire choir singing arrangements of “Universal Fanfare” and “The Greatest Show.” Junior choir student Ananya Akula was a conductor for the freshmen treble choir. “I had a conversation with a composer I really look up to: Rollo Dilworth,” Akula said. “I was blessed to be selected for the 2023 ACDA national conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, and met him [there.]” Akula had a brief interaction with Dilworth about her passion for music. “I asked him for advice as an aspiring choral music education major, and he guided me to start teaching in my local community,” she said. 

Akula spent her time trying to become a teacher for her former choir members. “After talking with Mr. Markwood, he believed in me and let me begin this project at Rock Ridge. I spent hours, in and out of school, creating lesson plans, practicing conducting, and executing my vision in terms of music.” 

While directing, Akula enjoyed her experience with teaching the freshmen treble choir. “I intentionally chose to direct ‘How Far I’ll Go’ from ‘Moana,’ as I, a rising senior, was teaching our freshman treble choir,” Akula said. “My goals were to spark inspiration and close friendships with them, and I’m so happy with how it turned out.”

Akula knew what she could improve on as a teacher. “I believe I can keep working towards better communication as a teacher. I worked hard to create a clear picture of what I wanted, and it’s important that I communicate this with everyone I work with — the choir, accompanist, etc. –so we can accomplish this goal together.” 

Akula has big goals for herself and her future in choir. “As the rising president of the student choir board at Rock Ridge Sings and chapter president of United Sound, effective communication is something I’m working towards to be the best leader I can be in all things I’m involved in.”

For members of the senior class, the final performance was bittersweet. Senior choir member Julia Freeman was inspired by what she learned in choir. “I felt very gratified and loved and also excited to see what the future holds using what I’ve learned in choir,” she said.  As her final year in choir came to a close, Freeman held onto her favorite moment in choir. “I loved when we found out we got all ‘Superiors’ at assessment.” Freeman performed “Mr. Blue Sky” as her last senior sendoff in choir. “The best thing was my butterfly sock puppet that I made for Mr. Blue Sky.”

Senior choir member AJ Ruhnke also enjoyed his last time ever performing in choir. “I felt bittersweet about my last concert, as even though it will be my final time performing with this amazing group of people, we had one of the most fun song lineups ever since my time here.” Ruhnke collected several memories from choir, and loves reflecting on his time with his peers.  “My best moments were definitely the times in between singing for the choir and just singing with my friends, and I’ll definitely miss the jam sessions my friends and I had in Markwood’s office during study halls.” Like Freeman, Ruhnke also enjoyed the final concert’s senior tributes.  “My best thing about the last performance was definitely using sock puppets to do Mr. Blue Sky. I was the person who recommended it in class, and I’m so happy it was one of my final performances here.”

Freshman Neha Naga Balaji was a part of Cantus Avem choir, and her choir prepared for the concert with a routine. “We sang in class, but Sneha and Ananya taught us ‘How Far I’ll Go,’ and they conducted it,” Naga Balaji said. She enjoyed her  experience as a freshman in choir. “It was good — the singing, inclusivity, the unity between everyone, and the harmonies,” she said. Her favorite song that she performed was “In My Life.” “It’s beautiful, and it’s the last song, so it’s really emotional,” Naga Balaji said.