by Anika Mittu ‘19
This April, Sherwood’s Chamber Choir will spend a week performing in the European cities of Prague, Ceske Budejovice, and Vienna despite the MCPS policy that international trips scheduled during instructional periods will not be school-sponsored.
MCPS’ decision to stop endorsing these trips resulted from a 2018 payroll audit, as county administrators found that Sherwood students received excused absences and teachers received professional leave during travel, both of which contradict county policy. As a result, students will no longer receive excused absences and teachers must take personal leave, rather than professional leave. The enforcement of this county policy led to the cancellation of the annual French Exchange and left many singers in the choir wondering whether their trip would face the same fate.
“It was a little disappointing because I had been looking forward to it for a long time,” said senior Jordan Bobo, referencing the once-serious potential for the trip to be cancelled. Choir members had anticipated the trip since talks of the Eastern European adventure had begun in the 2016-2017 school year.
However, soon after the MCPS decision, singers heard the relieving news that their trip would proceed as planned under the condition that their travels would not be school-sponsored. Despite the trip being technically unrelated to school, choir director Michael Maddox still expects students to follow all Sherwood behavior policies during the trip. Students are asked to behave just like they would in their classrooms as they explore towns scattered with Baroque castles, visit Beethoven’s final resting place and, most importantly, sing in venues such as Prague’s Holy Savior Church.
The group’s repertoire covers a range of music, including anything from African freedom songs, classic English madrigals, and songs written entirely in Italian or Latin. With a group size of just around 50 singers, the choir has the capability to fill a large arena with the sounds of international music. “I’m looking forward to hearing what we sound like in a big space,” said senior Claire Moran, referencing the churches and theatres that the choir will have the opportunity to use for performances.
Others, including Maddox, added that that upcoming trip will allow for students to truly view another culture while also performing and representing Sherwood in a foreign atmosphere. “The most exciting thing about the trip is the cultural experience of getting to explore foreign cities, taste new foods, and perform our music for enthusiastic European audiences,” said Maddox. “The trip is also a memorable bonding experience for everyone traveling together.”
In the months leading up to April, the choir will continue to polish their repertoire and learn new music, preparing to represent Sherwood in front of a new audience.
*Mittu is a member of the choir and will be joining the choir on their international trip.