HomeWashington Twp. NewsWashington Township High School choir rocking for a cause

Washington Township High School choir rocking for a cause

Annual ‘Pop Experience’ concert to raise awareness for mental health

Some school choirs stand by the traditional “winter concert followed by spring concert” regimen. Not the Washington Township High School choir.

On Feb. 14 at 7 p.m., the choir will host its annual “Pop Experience” concert, a night where students perform a mix of popular music, broadway tunes and crowd-pleasers from different decades.

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Sixth-year choir director Joe Zachowski spoke about what makes the event unique.

“My whole philosophy in approaching the concert is to give all of our kids a chance to experience what it’s like to be a performer on stage in a more commercial, contemporary setting,” he said. “The kids get a ton of experience performing in a traditional concert approach but this, for a lot of singers, is one of their few opportunities to have a concert experience that’s more commercial and contemporary. I like giving them that experience.”

In addition to having professional lighting and sound, the choir will be accompanied by the band 39 Mariner to round out the concert experience.

Zachowski added each year’s concert has a theme and an accompanying charity that will be the recipient of the concert’s proceeds.

This year’s theme is “Here and Now,” all songs performed will relate to the idea of living in the moment and being present.

“We’ve done some mindfulness practices in class using the ‘Calm’ app,” he said. “Our district has looked into mindfulness so we’re jumping on board.”

Zachowski tasked the student officers, who represent each class, to find a charity that relates to the theme. The students checked the website charitynavigator.org to verify the validity of organizations and reported back to Zachowski with the Child Mind Institute, a national organization that provides resources to children and teens with mental health issues.

Zachowski believes performing for a cause is beneficial to the singers.

“When we do a concert connected to a charity, the singers have a purpose that’s greater than themselves. It helps make their performance more purposeful,” he said.

Zachowski, a WTHS class of 2000 alumnus, said the concert was around since the late ’90s. The former choir director started the concert to give the students a third concert, something to do between the winter and spring concerts. While he didn’t invent the concert, he’s responsible for the form it’s in today.

“Approaching the concert in terms of it being a huge production with lights, sound, band and charity are all things I did when I transferred to the high school,” he said. “My first year was 2013–14. ‘Pops’ 2014 was the first year we did it in this format.”

Attendees can expect to hear a wide array of songs from popular radio songs, songs that were popular 10 years ago, music from films like “A Star is Born” or “The Greatest Showman,” according to Zachowski.

“No matter what age you are, you should enjoy the concert. We want to entertain everyone the best we can,” he said.

Tickets are available online at wthsnj.booktix.com for $10. They are available at the door for $10, cash only.

Anthony is a graduate of Rowan University and a proud freelance contributor for 08108 magazine. He has past bylines in The Sun Newspapers and the Burlington County Times.

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