Many of today's big name stars began their careers by shining on stage at their own high schools. Local rising stars can certainly achieve higher altitudes by being involved with the Weyburn Comprehensive School's STARS Choir. The experience would, however, benefit any student hoping to learn the value of hard work and commitment, which are the cornerstones of success in any profession.
Since 2002, under the direction of the Comp's choral teacher Colleen Weimer, the STARS Choir averages about 40 singers each year. The group is comprised of students in Grade 11 and Grade 12, since they need to have committed for at least one full year to the Choral program in order to qualify to audition for the STARS Choir.
According to Weimer, STARS stands for 'Singers Taking And Raising Spirits'.
"Megan Leach came up with the name in 2002," said Weimer. "I thought at first that it was a bit presumptuous, but it stuck and we still use it today!"
The STARS Choir gives about 30 performances each year, which continue well past graduation. Even with an early end to this school year, the STARS Choir members are notoriously committed, continuing to perform well into the summer months. In fact, the group often performs at the Weyburn Fair in July and Heritage Days in August.
"They are awesome to still fulfill commitments in their summer," said Colleen Weimer. "Many grade twelves are still taking part, in fact almost all of them are, and it is pretty impressive that they are still contributing to community events even after grad."
Jade Rooney graduated this year at the end of May from WCS and was part of the STARS Choir for two years. He said that he wasn't able to make every single performance, but it was painful for him to have to miss them.
"The STARS Choir was probably one of the biggest reasons I want to go into acting," said Rooney, who plans to work for a year before going to school to study professional acting.
"Mrs. Weimer brings the best out in everyone," he said. "I probably wouldn't be anywhere near where I am today without the STARS Choir and Mrs. Weimer."
According to Weimer, the STARS experience has a lasting effect.
"There are lots of students who come back after a few years and have great things to say," said Weimer. "I think they create a lot of good memories in this group and they feel really good about what they do, such as performing for community events and being part of celebrations, banquets and conventions."
Kjel Sidloski was part of the STARS Choir for two years before graduating in 2011.
"STARS choir really helped me to build as a performer," said Sidloski. "It helped me to get used to being on stage at various different venues and also to do the same material every time but always presenting it as something new."
Sidloski, who has studied music for a year at Briercrest and will be majoring in Music Composition at the University of Saskatchewan this fall, also credits Weimer for her support.
"Mrs. Weimer brings so much energy to it and her passion for music really infects the whole choir," he said. "That means a lot to the audiences."
Sidloski added that being part of a group is beneficial to performers of all kinds "because you grow with a group of other people who love music".
Although many of the members of STARS Choir are interested in careers in entertainment, not every one of them has such specific aspirations.
"I think being in the group for one or two years gives them the confidence for performing and for public speaking," said Weimer. "They learn a lot of skills like leadership, working together in a group, cooperation, commitment, responsibility and organization. There are some very busy kids in this group and they fit a lot of things into their lives."
Weimer said that every year she sees shy young people bust through their barriers and shine, gaining confidence and true voice.
"It's very cool to see," she said, "and very rewarding!"
April Hoffman, who has been part of STARS for two years and who also graduated this May, plans to go into the field of Medical Radiologic Technology this fall.
"Usually I am kind of nervous to perform," said Hoffman, "but when you're with a bunch of other people, you get the confidence." She has learned to be more confident with everyday living and the STARS Choir has shown her how hard you have to work to accomplish things.
Anyone who has seen the STARS Choir perform knows they have witnessed greatness: of team work, of quality performance, of dedication and, of course, many well-loved songs!