- March 6, 2019
West Orange High School choir students enjoyed a magical experience earlier this month at Disney’s Epcot International Festival of the Holidays Candlelight Processional.
Forty-five students, ranging from sophomores to seniors, stood on stage under the bright lights singing holiday songs of hope and joy.
The performers were accompanied by celebrity narrator Daymond John, from Shark Tank, who told the story of Christmas, recounting the biblical account of a savior born in Bethlehem.
Melinda Fradley, choir director, said the performance is an opportunity for the students from local high schools to experience a professional gig. The students were even paid for their time with free Disney tickets.
“I was so happy to see the students who had missed out on the opportunity because of the pandemic experience being there for the first time,” she said. “I’m in my third year here at the school, and I came in the midst of COVID. The students’ tenacity is what truly inspires me the most, because they kept coming back even through the challenges. The choir was one of the organization’s most impacted, because the masks and outdoor performing made it difficult to grasp the sound. We did all we could to bring the students back and found new solutions to overcome the pandemic.”
Junior Kyla Martin said her favorite moment of the performance was when the lights first came on and the students sang “Shout for Joy.”
“It felt so surreal, because I remember watching this performance when I was young,” she said.
Senior Jack Rainville said he remembers hearing about the performance from students who had done the show in the past.
“My friends and I prepared so much for this so it was super cool and exciting being on stage after hearing about it for so long and wishing we could do it too,” he said.
Senior Malia Gomes described the opportunity as “magical.”
“I loved seeing everyone come together as a whole, even students with similar interests from other schools,” she said. “Choir and music in general is my safe place where I can feel stress free and we’re a family so we have to work together.”