Nogales High School rocked last Friday night. The gymnasium was the site of a musical extravaganza with more than 500 choral students from across the Rowland Unified School District.
"Our choral festival will be a real crowd pleaser," promised coordinator Elaine McCauley, otherwise known as the principal of Farjardo Elementary in Rowland Heights. 
And McCauley knows what she's talking about. Theater goers might remember her from roles in area productions of "Singing In the Rain," "Oklahoma," "Funny Girl" and "42nd Street." 
So the song-and-dance star can be trusted when she says the rock `n' roll show really rocked the house down. 
While McCauley didn't perform, students from elementary to high school
grades sang their hearts out. The show choirs from Nogales and Rowland High Schools were joined by the choirs from Alvarado, Giano and Rincon Intermediate Schools.
Another 300 Honor Choir students represented all the elementary schools in the district. 
Of course, this many performers took a lot of coordination. 
"We started planning in October. Everyone suggested their favorite rock 'n' roll numbers, then we split them up among our choral groups," McCauley recalled.
Some performed Beatles' favorites, while others sang songs made famous by the King of Rock `n' Roll, Elvis Presley. 
"We're doing classics like `Blue Suede Shoes' `Rock 'n' Roll Is Here to Stay,' and `Surfin' USA,' " McCauley pointed out.
Other key numbers included "You Can't Stop the Beat" from the musical "Hairspray," "At the Hop" and "You Love Me." 
Bryant Aquino, choir director at Nogales, said the high school choral groups all performed. These included the Vocal Impressions, Chamber Singers and Treble Singers. 
"The high school students all added choreography to their performances as well," Aquino said. 
McCauley said local resident Mark Coon volunteered his time and sound equipment for the choral festival. And the high school's Kurt Shlatter helped out. 
"We couldn't have done the show without them," McCauley said. "We also want to thank Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe for a grant that paid for cost of busing all the students to the high school." 
On a sad note, six of the district's choral directors received layoff notices last week. They're part of the 88 teachers notified by the school board to deal with the budget deficit. 
"This a real crisis for our choral program. But tonight it's all about the music," Aquino said.
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