The Lake Highlands High School choir earned top marks Thursday at the University Interscholastic League (UIL) choir contest, held this year at Richardson High School. Competing against schools like Sachse, Rowlett, Garland, Berkner, and others, LH was awarded straight “ones,” called a “superior rating,” for all three choirs – boys, girls, and coed. That gave them the “sweepstakes” designation overall, much to the delight of veteran choir directors Michael O’Hern and Ms. Terry Berrier. “We have a talented group this year,” Mr. O’Hern told me, “and each of them truly enjoys singing.”

The yearly competition involves a mini-concert of three songs prepared by the choir, then a sight-reading exercise wherein the group is given music they’ve never seen and is required to read it, learn it, and perform it with just a few minutes preparation. Mr. O’Hern guides them through it in Mary Poppins’ fashion – with strong leadership, firm correction, and a spoonful of sugar and praise. He also calls on his senior section leaders to alert the kids about difficult passages. Lauren Barry, Wilson Spreier, Chase Bekarian, and Rebecca Rutledge were masterful in recognizing and advising the others on how to perform the tricky parts. “It was really rewarding to do well today,” said Chase Bekarian, “especially after all we’ve been through this year.” (Their beloved Mr. O’Hern has received aggressive treatment for cancer this year.) “It felt great to see all those ones on our score sheet.” Next stop for the choir will be a Corpus Christi competition (and fun in the sun) April 23-26.