April 28, 2023
Prince George High School's renowned choral ensemble served a special role during Fort Gregg-Adams' redesignation ceremony on Thursday, April 27, 2023, as the group delivered a stirring rendition of the U.S. national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner.
Led by Storm Burks, choir director for Prince George High School, the students - Trinity Washington, Kaylee Jenkins, Rachel Millis, Danis Jones, Lizzie Davis, Bryana Reid, Catherine Melesky, Zoey Campbell, Machi Jones, Jalen Slaughter, Matt Marshall, Julian Delacruz, and Adam Knight - helped open the early afternoon ceremony, with an audience of military and government dignitaries, local and national media, and thousands watching via live stream across the country.
Reflecting on the event, Burks praised his singers for their poise and professionalism, using his experiences as a performer to help guide his students through the high-profile event.
"We discussed during our warm-up that while these are very important people and this means the world to them, they are people just like you and I, and that there is no need to fear but embrace their energy and pride," Burks shared. "I have had the personal privilege of singing for very important people in my life, which prepared me mentally for moments like these and guided the mental coaching of my students."
On Thursday, April 27, 2023, the Prince George High School Chorus performs the national anthem during Fort Gregg-Adams' redesignation ceremony. The group performed in front of hundreds of guests, dignitaries, and media outlets in attendance and thousands watching online. (Photo Courtesy of Fort Gregg-Adams)
He continued, "You really don't feel the magnitude of these events until you see the people that it means the most. The gravitas of the event hit when the students and I had the honor of meeting LTC. Gregg about an hour before we needed to be in place. Looking out at 1,000 community members, distinguished guests, and high-ranking officials created a high-stakes atmosphere. I was not the least concerned about my students rising to the occasion."
For the Prince George High School Chorus, performing before large groups is standard fare for the talented ensemble of students. In recent years, the group has been a fixture of the community, performing during Prince George County's annual Christmas tree lighting event, Back-to-School night, and high school homecoming, hosting seasonal choral concerts, and participating in various Virginia Choral Directors Association (VCDA) and Virginia Music Educators Association (VMEA) delegations. They have also participated in the Heritage Choral Festival in New York, earning superior and first-place rankings, and Festival Disney in Orlando, Florida, receiving superior, second, and third-place honors.
Storm Burks leads the Prince George High School Chorus during their performance for the Virginia School Boards Association's Southside Regional Spring Networking Forum in March (Photo Courtesy of Michael Campbell)
In March, the high school's choral ensemble also performed during the Virginia School Boards Association's Southside Regional Spring Networking Forum, hosted by Prince George County Public Schools. During the event, a three-song set captivated the audience of superintendents, school board members, and other education leaders from across Central and Southside Virginia, drawing a stirring ovation from attendees at its conclusion.
Thursday's ceremony also had the backdrop of taking place during April's celebration of the Month of the Military Child, where school districts and communities across America celebrate and recognize military students and families. Prince George County Public Schools serves as the educational partner of Fort Gregg-Adams, and the school division and the army base often participate in each other's events during a given year, creating and nurturing a collaborative relationship between the two organizations.
"Our military community is such a large and valuable part of our community, and I am excited to see collaborations like this continue to happen in the future," Chorus Director Burks said. "I hope to work with the U.S. Army's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Programs (MWR) more closely on possible concerts on-post and even act as a featured ensemble for private events."