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Some parents upset GBHS declined Carnegie invite

Parents rally to fundraise for trip for school’s madrigal choir
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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A Granite Bay High School choir’s decision to turn down Carnegie Hall has hit a sour note with some parents.

Two families said they learned in a Press Tribune article that the school’s accomplished madrigal choir had declined an invitation to perform at the prestigious Festival at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

“It was quite a shock as we left the school year in May with a set plan and money sent to hold our place,” said Stacey Sheeketski, whose daughter, Jessica Sheeketski, is in the choir.

Five parents and three students attended the school board meeting of the Roseville Joint Union High School District on July 12 to express their disappointment.

“My daughter said how important this is (to her),” Sheeketski said. “This is something special madrigal earned.”

Board member R. Jan Pinney voiced support for the choir during the meeting.

“Being invited to perform at Carnegie Hall is an amazing honor,” Pinney told the Press Tribune in an e-mail. “I am so proud of our kids and our music program at Granite Bay High School and throughout the (district).”

Pinney said that key decision makers — such as Principal Michael McGuire — were not involved in the decision because of summer vacations.

“My intent is to ask school leaders to take another look at the decision once they return,” Pinney said. “I’m hopeful we’ll be able to find a way for the madrigal choir to perform at Carnegie Hall, which for most participants is probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The madrigal choir received the invitation after earning a high rating at a music festival in Anaheim this spring. Only select choirs, bands and orchestras are asked to perform in this world-renowned venue.

But the choir’s booster club voted down accepting the invitation, citing conflicting schedules among students and a limited timeframe of availability, choir instructor April Bean previously told the Press Tribune.

“We are meeting on Sept. 7 to discuss possible trip options,” Bean said Monday.

McGuire said he will attend the meeting to hear all the opinions on this matter.

“I wonder why not a single parent or student has contacted me by e-mail or telephone to communicate their concerns regarding this school trip,” McGuire said in an e-mail to the Press Tribune. “It is my job to be the voice of Granite Bay High School on matters such as these. When it comes to communication, I prefer to speak with the stakeholders — the parents and the students in this case — in person.”

Tammie Snyder, whose son performs in the madrigal choir, received an e-mail announcing the booster club meeting on June 30 — but it was in the middle of a workday, so she passed. Based on the e-mail list, she guessed that only a handful of parents comprise the club.

“Four or five people made the decision for the whole choir” Snyder said. “The school had no knowledge of this.”

Sheeketski said she’s not sure how this decision ended up happening or who is in this booster club, which she had not heard of until now — despite her daughter singing in the madrigal choir last year.

She said the choir has not yet cancelled with Festival at Carnegie Hall, so there’s still a chance the New York trip can happen. Sheeketski and Snyder are trying to rally parents together in a last-ditch effort to fundraise for the trip.

Based on the festival itinerary, Snyder estimates that a four-night hotel package will cost each student between $950 and $1,060, not including airfare.

“(My son) is just really happy that I’m backing him. He’s thrilled that there’s hope,” Snyder said. “We’ve got to get some fundraising going, put this behind us and get these kids to New York.”

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.