A similar testament is true for Katie Rathe, whose freshman is just getting started with Valley Show Choir. Rathe has a different perspective than most other parents; she’s a fellow show choir director in the Des Moines Public Schools. Rathe also student-taught at Valley in 2001.
Since then, she’s seen Valley’s program go from up-and-comer to bar-setter.
“We hold ourselves to the standard of ‘what would Valley do?’” Rathe said.
For the Keokuk contest, Rathe was able to ride the bus with her daughter. Throughout the morning, she wore the cap as a show choir mom. But once her school arrived to the competition, Rathe had to switch roles.
“I have a totally different perspective of what show choir is and I’m seeing it from her angle,” she said. “I’m just trying to enjoy the experience now being a parent.”
It Takes A (Valley) Village
The show choir lifestyle is close to a near 24/7 operation, parents say.
“Those competition days are so long,” Rathe said. “There's always something where a parent is needed to step in for.”
Nieman said dozens of parents each year rally together to help fill voids and tackle certain tasks and responsibilities. From rehearsals to sewing costumes, and early morning bus trips at faraway competitions to setting up stages, everybody plays a part.
“Show choir is a very expensive thing to do,” she explained. “This year, I saw an even greater amount of parents that were really engaged to get others engaged. There's been a very conservative effort to bring on new freshman and sophomore parents to get them involved and let them know what they could expect. And the parents this year really stepped up their game with fundraising and volunteering.”
A big shoutout, though, is certainly needed for the “Wing Nuts”—the stage dads. Breedlove said this “amazing group unloads and loads all of the risers” that are needed at every competition.
And at the top of it all—the leaders of the pack: Valley Show Choir directors and choreographers. They deserve the most praise, Nieman said.
“The directors and choreographers and all those involved in preparing our children, I don't think they get enough credit for the effort and energy they put into it. They're working long hours to mold our kids into the adults they'll become."
It’s a commitment, a very large one at that. But oh so worth it.
“They see that hard work pays off,” Weeklund said of fellow parents and students. “They learn the value of being on a team, of each person playing a role that will be missed if they don't show up. The crew, the band, the moms who are repairing ripped seams, the dads who drive the equipment truck.
“I think the kids truly understand that they are one cog in a very complex wheel.”
A Final Performance, Together