Sunday, December 10, 2023

Toano Middle School Choir to Perform at Richmond Raceway

An official NASCAR Pace Car is parked in front of Toano Middle School in celebration of the upcoming student performance at Richmond Raceway on April 3. (WYDaily/Dominic Catacora)

TOANO — The Toano Middle School Choir students are preparing for a big performance this weekend in Richmond, Va.

The school’s choir has been selected to perform its rendition of “God Bless America” during the opening ceremony of the 67th Annual Spring NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway.

Toano Middle School Choral Director Valerie Hart. (WYDaily/Dominic Catacora)

On March 25, one of the official NASCAR Pace Cars arrived at Toano Middle School in celebration of the upcoming performance.

“If it was a youth lottery, they feel like they won it,” said Toano Middle School Choir Director Valerie Hart in an interview with WYDaily. “We have 206 people from Toano that are going to be sitting in one block and then there’s going to be another 30 that are randomly scattered because they already had season tickets. Just the fact that they get that much support from their families to participate. I think they’re super excited.”

The pace car was driven by the NASCAR Group Sales Manager for the Mid-Atlantic Tracks Nic Lash.

“What we have out today is one of our new Toyota Camry Pace Cars,” said Lash in an interview with WYDaily. “This is one of the two pace cars that will be setting the field for next Sunday’s race at Richmond Raceway for the Toyota Owners 400. So these cars are souped-up to the highest caliber that Toyota makes them for the road.”

The choir students performed in front of the school and then posed for pictures with the pace car.

Hart says that this opportunity has been about two years in the making. The school choir has been practicing a special rendition of “God Bless America” which was arranged by a composer named Terence Cooper.

(WYDaily/Dominic Catacora)

“A gentleman in California who knows my husband, a composer, he arranged it for us, and shrunk it so it was within the voice parts of my students,” said Hart. “He wrote it so it was in a comfortable range for them. So that was really awesome too, that we had a friend in California who was able to get involved.”

A total of 56 Toano choir students will perform with one Lafayette High School student translating the song into American Sign Language.

“So with Toano Middle School, it was conversations that were probably going on since before covid really hit,” said Lash.”Luckily, last year some of our restrictions began to loosen up and we were able to execute on some of these opportunities. So we were able to work with Mrs. Hart here and get something set up, and we’re excited to have all the kids come out next Sunday.”

The school choir will sing prior to the start of the race, before 3:30 p.m., on April 3 at Richmond Raceway.

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