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Oh say can you see

Howland choir to sing at Cavs game

Kelli Olesky, choir director for fifth, sixth, and seventh grades at Howland Middle School, directs the seventh grade choir as they sing the national anthem during a practice Friday afternoon in anticipation of singing today at the Cleveland Cavaliers.

HOWLAND — Howland Middle School choir director Kelli Olesky challenged seventh-graders Friday during practice to get out of their comfort zone and “do everything bigger.”

The students were practicing in preparation for singing the national anthem at the Cleveland Cavaliers game tonight at Quicken Loans Arena.

“Wherever our nerves are, our singing has to be bigger,” Olesky told students.

The seventh-grade choir for the past three years has performed at Canton Charge games, but this year is the first that seventh-graders will be singing at a Cavs game. This group hasn’t sung at the Charge yet either — they’ll get a chance to do that on Friday.

“This is a huge opportunity for them, but it’s also a situation that I can’t mimic for them to set up how they’re going to feel tomorrow. It’s obviously the grandest kind of venue they’ve ever sung in,” Olesky said. “My hope for them is that they do it exactly how they rehearsed and they can use those nerves to help them, which I think they’ll be able to do.”

Seventh-graders Alana Olszewski, 13, Abigail Lewis, 12, and Jake Marino, 12, said they are all “nervous and excited” to sing tonight.

Olszewski said she is most excited about standing in center court. She said the choir has been preparing for this all year.

“We knew we were going to the Charge game, but we didn’t know that we were going to the Cavs,” Olszewski said.

Students at Howland Middle School have the choice between joining band, choir or music appreciation, according to Lewis.

“In fifth grade, I played trumpet and it didn’t go too well, so I joined choir last year,” Lewis said.

Marnio said he joined the choir because he loves to sing.

The 60 students making the trek to Cleveland tonight have the opportunity to stay and watch the Cavs before coming back to Howland.

Howland Middle School Principal Stephen Kovach said the school is proud to see the students sing at such a large venue.

“This is a really big step for them and it’s good that they’ll be representing their school and showing all their talents and something they have a passion for,” Kovach said. “It’s a good learning experience in terms of teaching performance.”

Olesky said she is a little nervous for the students, but she knows they will make the school proud.

She said choir at Howland Middle School is a wonderful opportunity for students to express themselves. The daily class also incorporates other content areas such as math, social studies, language arts and science in order to help the students in their other classes, she said.

For the most part, the choir group stays together from year to year, making the group into a team.

“You stay together every year, and you grow as musicians and as people every year,” Olesky said.

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