My name is Ryan McElveen, and I am a proud 1998 Alumnus of All-County Chorus. That’s right, only 16 years ago, I was standing up on these risers, fanning myself in the heat of the Hayfield gym subclimate. Back then I sung in the alto range. The guys in the chorus might not fully appreciate this yet, but there’s one great thing about being on the high end of the vocal range: girls.
Today I brought with me a very special memento from my all county chorus performance; something you students have probably never seen before: It’s called a cassette tape. Back in the 1900s we thought we were cool because we could walk around with a grand total of 10 songs in the palm of our hands. Now, we walk around with ipods and phones which are even smaller than this tape but can carry thousands of songs. Music has never been more accessible, and it has never been more powerful.
Now I do have a confession: I know I look a lot like Justin Bieber with my bowl haircut and everything, but I’m not actually him—in fact, I think he might still be detained in customs somewhere.
The truth is, even after my star performance as a high pitched singer in all county chorus, I didn’t turn into much of a pop singer. I’m sure many of you students want to become the next Bieber or Miley Cyrus, but on behalf of society, your parents and your teachers, I beg you: please don’t.
You see, you don’t need to become a singer, songwriter, or a professional musician to appreciate music. And that is what today’s event is about: our ability as a diverse community to come together, learn, grow and create something beautiful.
However, we need your help to ensure we can continue to provide opportunities like this. You may have heard that our school system is facing the greatest budget shortfall in our history, which is the result of the chronic underfunding of our school system by our state and county supervisors. Over the coming months, we will end up having to cut more than $110 million total from our FY2015 budget even as our system continues to grow by thousands of students. Despite this, our school board remains unanimously committed to supporting music education. In turn, we ask that you join us in spreading the word to the board of supervisors that this kind of experience today would not be possible without our ability to retain our amazing music teachers, who are unquestionably the best in the nation.
I will leave you with one final thought: This is an experience you will remember for the rest of your life, and we all hope you will retain your passion for music for the rest of your life. Enjoy today, and soak in the power of music.