Schools welcome new choir directors

Published 9:00 pm Monday, January 22, 2018

The choir director offices at St. Aloysius and Warren Central high schools have new tenants.

Christie Beasley, St. Al, and Eric Johnson, Warren Central, took the reins of the two high school choirs at the beginning of the spring semester. Beasley previously served as the assistant choir director at Vicksburg High for a year and a half and she worked at Warren Elementary before that.

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“I really was very excited to find out that this was open,” Beasley said. “When I was approached about the job, I was like ‘oh, no. I can’t leave in the middle of the school year.’ I just really thought about it and prayed about it and I knew this was going to be the right move for our family. My husband is a second generation St. Al graduate. We have a little boy and we plan on sending him here so that would be third generation.”

Johnson had served as the assistant director at Warren Central for three and a half years and took over as the lead director following Nancy Robinson’s retirement at the end of the fall semester.

“It has been wonderful,” Johnson said. “She was a really great mentor and really easy to work with. We got along very well. She honestly taught me a lot more than I think I learned in college. It was great. I am very sad she is gone.”

Although they have only been in their new roles a short amount of time, Beasley and Johnson have hit the ground running as both schools are working on their spring musicals. The choir at St. Al is also preparing to sing for the Bishop during a mass at the school and Warren Central’s choir is preparing for competition in March.

“It has been kind of a whirlwind already,” Johnson said. “I know it is only week two or three of school. It is kind of a tough transition going from not having so much responsibility to having all of the responsibility. It has been a tough transition, but I have a really good co-director so that makes things a lot easier.”

The choir at Warren Central is well established after flourishing for years under Robinson’s guidance. Johnson now has the task of continuing that legacy, while also leaving his own mark on the program.

“It is a little intimidating because she was here so long and it is such a renowned program in the state,” Johnson said. “It is kind of daunting, but at the same time we have been kind of preparing for that for the last three years. I knew when I started here that she was planning on retiring. She has been training me pretty well. It is kind of exciting to know that it is such a good program and it was left in my hands.”

Johnson said for the time being he doesn’t plan to make many changes, but as time goes on and he grows in the role he will see what works and what doesn’t.

“Right now I am going to keep going things the way we’ve done them,” he said. “The good thing about being here for three years before she retired is that I got to make some of the program my own. She and I worked together on certain things. I guess it is going to be one of those, we will have to see and as the year progresses things that don’t work I try to change. Not going to start changing things right now.”

At St. Al, the choir is in a rebuilding stage with few students enrolled in the actually choir class, but more expected to participate in practices each day during break.

“That has been one of the biggest changes,” Beasley said. “At Vicksburg, we had a women’s choir, a varsity choir, Madrigals, we had all these different choirs. I saw those kids all the time and we had established things. Over here, we are kind of in the building phase. That has been a big difference.”

Beasley also has the added responsibilities of teaching two theology classes at the school.

“It is really helping me dive more into my faith by helping the kids,” Beasley said. “Being able to have that faith-based ideology with everything we do. Everything we do is so saturated in our Catholic faith and I love it.”

Even in the short time she has been there, Beasley said she has already grown to love the family atmosphere of working at a small private school focused around her faith.

“I was really excited to get over here and be with the family atmosphere,” she said. “That’s probably the biggest thing that I’ve notice in the week and two days we’ve been here with the snow day. It is such a family. I love that we start every single morning off, we all meet in the cafeteria and we pray and we have our morning announcements. Everyone gathers together and we start our day like that. It is a great way to start your day.”