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ELITE Choir Spreads Holiday Cheer

Cass Herrington
Peoria Public Radio

Gym-goers getting a lunch hour workout Wed. were treated to the sweet-sounding harmonies of carolers.  

The performance was the last stop this year for the Peoria Park District’s ELITE holiday choir. The group is made up of students from Lincoln K-8, Manual Academy, Roosevelt Magnet and Peoria High School.

The energetic carolers danced, swayed and clapped for an attentive audience, next to a row of stationary bikes at the Riverplex. Senior citizens and tapped their feet, and sweaty passers-by grinned. These middle and high school singers say they’re inspiring hope in the community.

Singers Kayla Hope, Jciniyan Scott, Jameer Walters, and Kamryn Hollie say one of the most moving performances this month moved an elderly woman to tears.

“Because she didn’t feel like she had the spirit of Christmas, but we brought it all back,” Scott said.

Credit Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio
Peoria Public Radio

Another singer, Joshua Preciado, says participating in the choir has brought hope into his life, too.

“I thought I wasn’t talented. Then I joined the choir and I was like, ‘Oh, I can sing!,’” Preciado said. “Now I just ignore the bullies, and other stuff.”

He adds, his parents are separated, so listening to positive songs helps him keep the faith.

The performance at Riverplex was one of 12 mini pop-up concerts in a variety of locations, including the county jail, the courthouse and a grocery store.

Vatonya Terrell, an ELITE compliance officer at Manual, says the young singers were expected to attend practice on time. In return, she says, they get leadership experience and VIP treatment.

“To get that feeling and love that they were probably missing somewhere else,” Terrell said. “Getting to unite with other kids from other schools and all of them talking and bonding.”

Terrell says the idea driving the holiday choir program is to get teens comfortable pursuing and achieving their goals, whether or not that involves singing.