BJHS choir sings anthem for inauguration
It was far from a normal day for the Baldwin Junior High School Chansonettes Monday. They sang the Star Spangled Banner for Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' inauguration ceremony on the steps of the State Capitol in Topeka.
"It was an exciting day," said Jodie Eldridge, vocal music teacher at BJHS. "The weather was nice and the girls had a good time I think. They sang well and enjoyed being part of the event. We had a great day."
The 22-member Chansonettes, the highest level of choir at the junior high, were able to hob-knob with the state's highest elected officials with their place on the schedule of events. The Baldwin group was the first to perform at the 11 a.m. event.
"The new governor shook hands with each of the girls. They liked that," said Eldridge. "The girls were shoulder to shoulder with Bill Graves, Phil Kline and all the others. It was exciting."
Eldridge has led singing groups to many big events over the years, but nothing compared to this one, which was televised state wide.
"My students have not sung at one before. They've sung at all kinds of things, but never an inauguration," she said. "I personally thought it was a tremendous honor for the girls, the school and Baldwin City. We were on TV.
"It's quite an honor for junior high singers to be involved," Eldridge said. "You have voice challenges in junior high, so I think it really says something for this group to be picked."
But how did it happen? Eldridge said it was a result of the Chansonettes singing at the capitol around the Christmas holidays.
"We performed in the rotunda at the State Capitol during the Christmas season and were heard by some of the people there," she said. "They liked it and wondered if we could come to this. I got a call about it just before Christmas. I think it was an outgrowth of our performance there."
Although it was smooth sailing to and from Topeka and everything went well, Eldridge had plenty of tense moments beginning last week when the flu bug that has bitten Baldwin so hard recently swooped through the junior high. It hit its height Monday when 118 students called in sick at BJHS. None were Chansonettes, however. And the record didn't last long as there were 120 students out sick at the junior high Tuesday.
"I was missing five to six girls a day last week which made it difficult to practice," said Eldridge. "But they all made it Monday. Some left right after we sang. Their mothers picked them up there and drove them home."
With all the hoopla of the event, all the details and the worry of whether there would be a full slate of Chansonettes, Eldridge said it was all worthwhile.
"I was a little apprehensive because of the sickness we had," she said. "But it all went well. They were a credit to Baldwin City and Baldwin junior high.
"It all went well. The weather was wonderful and we had several parents ride with us that helped. We got there on time. There was a lot of security. We noticed Dan Brown right away," Eldridge said of the state trooper who lives in Baldwin. It was just an exciting day."