Starting the Season on the Right Note


The Chamber Singers performed at the first football game of the season.

For the first time in nearly 90 years, the Rock Island High School Chamber Singers won’t be painting up to join the crowd, but on the field kicking off the new football season with their singing. The Chamber Choir was invited by Football Coach, Ben Hammer, to sing the National Anthem at the first football game of the year. In past years, the marching band has played the “Star Spangled Banner” to mark the start of the game, making this year the first year Chamber Choir has performed at any of the football games. 

At Rock Island High School, pride and school spirit flows freely through the halls, and with a stadium built to hold 15,000 fans, students can be found supporting their football team almost every Friday night. With a cheering crowd filling Almquist Field, and after the Chamber Choir’s performance of the song that marks the start of every game, the football players feel ready to defeat their opponent.

“I think it’s important if you want people to support you, you need to support them,” Hammer said. Hammer encourages his football players to attend all school events, just as the choir students are encouraged to attend sporting events. “I try to go to as many games as I can, maybe twice a month or more,” said Charly Heber-Spates, member of Chamber Choir. Everyone works extremely hard to perfect their craft, whether it be on the field or on the stage, therefore all the departments deserve equal support. 

Hammer claims the sound system has never been up to par, so it has never been thought to have the choir sing at a football game. “We’re making Rocky history,” Heber Spates said, knowing this year is the first time the choir has been represented at a football game in this way. 

Anyone who has ever experienced high school or even seen a high school cliche movie is aware of the stereotypes that involve the “jocks” and the “theatre/choir nerds”.  “At Rocky, I think we do a decent job at not stereotyping the athletes,” Hammer said. This goes for the arts department as well. The school does a good job when it comes to publicizing all events.

Despite the efforts put forth by all students, some events have less attendance than others. To lessen the divide, Heber-Spates proposes, “We could find a way to get students from both groups more involved in the other’s area of practice. More choir kids in sports, more athletes in choir.” Whether this means having a few more athletes in choir classes or filling the auditorium with football players to support the cast of the spring musical and vice versa, all of the teams, casts, choirs, bands, orchestras, etc. take time to perfect their craft, and most groups would be able to thrive with just a little more support from the student body. 

These changes might seem small at first, but every tradition starts somewhere. Even if the next football season begins with the marching band’s regular performance, this year’s change of routine can be the catalyst for equal representation and support. The Chamber Choir singing at the first football game of the season is not only making history, but is “a step in the right direction,” says Heber-Spates.