By Kathleen Wilker
“Yo, yo, yo!” shouts School of Rock director Ray Kalynuk, calling his students to order. “Check it!” respond they respond, in chorus. Since he became involved in organizing Churchill Alternative’s cool, kid-friendly choir over seven years ago, Kalynuk has noticed the hip, inclusive vibe permeate the school.
The 96 member choir is open to all students in grades four through six and is often accompanied by 30 or so members of the schools’ ukulele club as well as a band made up of teachers, parents and students on guitar, percussion, piano and stand up double bass.
“Since I’ve been in Junior Kindergarten I’ve been looking forward to joining the School of Rock,” says Westboro’s Aiden Sarkozy.
“Everyone’s welcome and the teachers and parents listen to the kids’ opinions about what songs we want to play,” says Molly Goodman, also of Westboro.
The School of Rock is performing on the Main Stage at Westfest this year (2012) on June 10 at 12:30. “When we approached Westfest, we were actually thinking we might be able to perform on the street,” explains Kalynuk, also a Westboro resident. “We never imagined we’d go straight to the Main Stage.”
“It’s great that Westfest is excited to have us perform,” enthuses Mia Fowler who can’t wait to play Footloose in front of the Westfest crowds and has been practicing her guitar in preparation. “We have so much fun on stage—you can be out there and wild. But usually only our family and a few friends have a chance to see us. This is a chance to perform for a bigger crowd. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Choosing music that inspires and engages young people who are just beginning to develop their own musical taste is one of the goals of The School of Rock, according to Kalynuk who has to vet song choices to make sure they are all-ages appropriate. Rolling in the Deep, Life is a Highway, Crocodile Rock, Under Pressure, Walking on Sunshine were all on the playlist this year.
“We had to narrow our set to six songs,” says Brooke Auger, who has just arrived in Westboro via England. “So we picked the ones that we could sing the loudest and that had the most kid musicians.”