The White House honored the Palatine High School choir with an invitation to sing at the Christmas Open House on December 22.
Thirty auditioned choir members, including students in the Midnight Blues and the vocal jazz ensemble, took a bus to Washington D.C. and performed for two hours last Saturday.
Angela Santoro, whose son Nick was one of the Palatine High School students who performed, travelled with the group and said the experience was unforgettable.
“From the moment I saw these kids at breakfast through their warm-up and bus ride to the White House, there was such a huge amount of anticipation,” Santoro said. “The excitement and pride that you could see on their faces. It all rang through from the very first note they sang and through their entire two hour non-stop performance.”
Steve Sivak, the choir director, said the White House initially invited the choir to perform in 2010 after he reached out to see if performing there was even a possibility.
The choir was invited to perform that year, but the performance didn’t happen due to scheduling conflicts.
To get to be one of the groups invited to the White House is a process.
“I had to fill out an application and send links to YouTube videos of the choir performing,” Sivak said. “On November 8, the White House confirmed we were invited.”
After performing, the students were treated to a number of sight-seeing opportunities, including a tour of the Kennedy Center, the U.S. Capitol, and a monument tour at night.
They also attended a concert at the Pentagon City Mall, went to Ford’s Theatre and Peterson Boarding House and Arlington National Cemetery, where there was a wreath-laying ceremony held on behalf of Palatine High School, Sivak said.
“As a parent, I was so proud, of not just my own son, but all of these kids,” Santoro said.
“People don’t often realize the amount of time that Mr. Sivak and his students put into this craft. He is an incredible teacher and also a mentor and friend to these kids-he doesn’t allow an ounce of their potential to go untapped,” she said.