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‘Students are the music:' OHHS choir director earns Golden Apple Award
Darren McCoy stood before a packed house Friday night in Seattle Center’s Intiman Playhouse and held up a book of sheet music.
“What is this?” he asked. “Is this music?” He shook his head. “No. It’s ink. Students are the music, right?”
McCoy, the choir director at Oak Harbor High School, was introduced as a recipient of the Golden Apple Award, sponsored by KCTS TV. He was one of 12 honorees.
“In a Navy town, on the tip of an island, if you listen hard enough, you just might hear singing,” said KCTS host Enrique Cerna. “It just might be the choir at Oak Harbor High School, led by Darren McCoy. He’s busy enough directing not just one, not two, but five choirs.”
The audience was treated to a three-minute video of McCoy and his students during a seven-hour shoot that took place at Oak Harbor High School two months ago.
“My goal is that they are going to be able to navigate the musical world, even after they graduate,” McCoy said in the video. “Hopefully, they will stay involved in music somehow, even if it’s simply as a concert-goer.”
Choir veteran Katie McClimans, a senior and Choir Club president, told KCTS that it used to be kind of an insult to be referred to as a “choir nerd.” But that’s changed. “Now it’s like, ‘Hey, look at me I’m a choir nerd,’” she said.
McCoy took over the high school choir program four years ago, fresh out of college. His second year coincided with a new, popular television show, “Glee,” that caught the imaginations of his choir students because of its modern mix of high school dance and song. He asked to create a Glee-style class and the next year Show Choir was formed.
Show Choir, which meets at 7 o’clock, drew about 70 students. It added energy to a program that already had the award-winning Harbor Singers, all-girl Treble Choir and Campus Choir.
This year, McCoy added to the program by starting “Man Choir,” which mixes music with comedy and draws more high school boys.
It’s that ability to create a diverse program that caught the attention of Connie Punch, a member of the program’s Music Boosters club.
“I’m his biggest cheerleader,” Punch said after the ceremony. Both of her kids were in the choir program. “The kids really are so determined and passionate to do the very best they can do — for him.”
McCoy noted that four of the nine teachers honored represented the arts.
“I think it’s a good demonstration of the value art brings to a student’s life,” he said. “The arts have real impact on how students view themselves and view the world.
“That’s why I teach music, because students are the ones who create the harmony, both musically, but also interpersonally,” he continued. “They demonstrate cultural awareness by studying music of various cultures — French, German — but also by accepting students of various backgrounds.
“But most of all, I love teaching music because when you teach a student to identify what makes music beautiful and worthy, they learn to identify what makes them beautiful and worthy.”
The awards air on KCTS 9 at 7 p.m. Feb. 20, 1 p.m. Feb. 24, noon Feb. 25 and 1 p.m. Feb. 28.