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This week, our youngest son is out in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is performing in the National High School Honors Choir. To say that I am proud of Tim and his accomplishment is an understatement. Right now, I am wishing that I were there to hear the concert and marvel at the achievement. That was just not in the cards. He has had, best as I can tell from messages and quick phone calls, an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. I absolutely CANNOT wait until he comes home so I can hear all about it in person.
He was selected from approximately 4,000 high school choral students to be a part of the 300 person national high school honors choir for the American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA). The group is performing this afternoon as a group and then will perform this evening in a mass choir with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He is one of three students from his high school and one of the five from the state of Vermont chosen following the auditioning process. It is quite an honor. We are very proud of him.
We at our high school are blessed to have an amazing, dedicated choral teacher who goes above and beyond with our children. She sees their potential and helps them achieve things that they would never have even attempted without her guidance. We are grateful for all her time and effort, particularly since this week, she spent her birthday away from her own children to be with ours.
Here is the article that appeared in the local newspaper about the students and their experience.
From the Herald – NORTH CLARENDON — When the lights go up, the silence of anticipation will be broken by the thundering sound of 300 voices filling the air with song.
And three of those 300 voices will belong to Mill River Union High School seniors.
The students — Tim Heffernan, Katherine Bullock and Christian Brand — make up a tiny fraction of the nearly 4,000 students who auditioned for the 2015 National American Choral Directors’ Association Honor Choirs in Salt Lake City, Utah.
This weekend, the trio will spend several days rehearsing with the most talented vocal artists in the nation, and finish off the weekend with three performances. Roughly 6,000 people will be in attendance at those performances.
“It’s amazing and completely overwhelming to think of that many people listening to us sing,” said Brand.
Kristin Cimonetti, vocal teacher at the school, said this event is the highest honor of its kind that a high school student can achieve.
“It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said. “It’s very competitive and there is no other choral event of this caliber in the country.”
Each student who auditioned had to use the same piece of music and record it electronically.
Each recording was then put under the audio microscope by a panel of judges who made decisions of elimination, whittling the 4,000 audition recordings down to a mere 300.
The blip of music was only about 40 seconds long, but the students rerecorded for hours, trying to get the perfect clip.
“We didn’t even listen to the final result,” said Bullock. “It’s too nerve-wracking, and you’ll never be completely satisfied with how you sound.”
Cimonetti was the one who listened with great detail to each of their recordings and ultimately made the final decision on which one to send to the judges.
“I listened for little glitches, like a breath that lasted slightly longer than it should,” she said. “But in the end, it all worked out.”
The recordings were sent in November, but the students didn’t learn the results until a couple of months later.
“It was like waiting to hear from college applications, but worse,” said Heffernan, laughing.
Each said that when they did get their results back, the feeling was unreal.
“I saw the email on my phone and I just couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know if I trusted such good news,” said Brand, who read the email while walking down the street. The shock of it all caused him to abruptly stop walking, causing what he called a backup of foot traffic behind him.
“I was certain it was a trick,” he said.
But as the initial shock wore off, the students realized they had some serious work ahead of them.
They were each mailed a series of songs they needed to learn for the performances.
And they needed to learn them by heart.
Just because they had gotten into the choir didn’t mean they were out of the hot seat.
At the first rehearsal in Salt Lake, judges will walk through the rows of students, listening intently as they sing, eliminating anyone who doesn’t sound up to par.
“It may seem harsh, but it ensures quality performance,” Cimonetti said. “It holds everyone accountable.”
But each of the Mill River students have been dedicated to practicing in preparation for the event.
“We’ll absolutely be practicing on the plane ride, too,” said Bullock. “I actually feel bad for the people sitting next to us. We’ll be singing the whole time.”
While the three students said they feel a sense of pride, they all know they could not haven accomplished any of this without the help of Cimonetti.
But Cimonetti modestly shook off the compliment, saying the students were the ones bursting with talent.
“I really do think we will all be changed after this performance,” said Heffernan.
At 2:47 p.m. today, May 10th, the golden spike bearing the words ” May God continue the unity of our Country as this Railroad unites the two great Oceans of the world,” was driven into place at Promontory Summit in Utah, creating the first Transcontinental railroad in the United States. This might not seem like much, but in fact it meant that travel from the Atlantic to the Pacific could be done in about a week, compared to the six months that the journey took beforehand.
In the world of litigation, anyone can sue anyone for anything. This proposition is of course tempered by the rules for frivolous litigation which penalizes litigants that bring lawsuits which they know have no merit resulting in a waste of court resources. I came across an interesting lawsuit referred to in the Wall Street Journal Law Blog filed by a woman in federal court in Utah against Google for faulty walking directions. The complaint can be found here.
It seems that the woman, looking for walking directions across town, used Google Maps walking directions which placed her on a highway without sidewalks. The woman, who evidently chose to follow the directions verbatim, was struck by a car and injured. She is now suing Google for providing her with dangerous directions.
Frivolous? Ingenious? Her allegations is that by providing directions Google undertook a legal duty to provide safe directions for pedestrians. She alleged that by providing directions which instructed her to walk on a highway with no sidewalk, Google was negligent. It will be interesting to see how this holds up in court compared to the “reasonable person” standard. The plaintiff always has an obligation to act as a reasonable person would act under the circumstances.
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I remember it well from when we lived in New Jersey. A trip on any major highway whether traffic was stopped or not would most likely reveal some driver, totally not paying attention to driving. I have seen drivers putting on makeup while driving (seems dangerous to me), talking on cell phones, texting on phones, even reading the newspaper (I kid you not, the paper splayed out over the steering wheel as they do 70 on the Garden State Parkway). Most states have required hands-free use of phones while driving to try to make it somewhat safer to be on the road with these people. The state of Utah has recently passed a law making it the strictest law in the country for texting while driving. Drivers who are texting and cause a fatal collision can be face felony charges and jail time up to 15 years. The state has likened texting or talking while driving to driving while intoxicated -reasoning that drivers who are distracted by texting or talking while driving are just as unfit to operate a vehicle as drivers who have had too much to drink. Texting have been found to be even more dangerous since the driver is more distracted and engaged than with just talking on the cell phone.
From a legal perspective, the difficulty in enforcing the law lies in the ability of the prosecutors to prove their case. Unlike drunk driving where there are objective testing in the form of a breathalyzer, there are no such instruments available in texting while driving cases. The prosecutors or law enforcement officials are forced to subpoena phone records and logs to demonstrate that the driver was texting immediately prior to the collision. The law in Utah presumes that all drivers are aware of the inherent risk of texting while operating a motor vehicle, akin to the presumption in most states regarding the consumption of alcohol and the operation of a vehicle. With this presumption in place, the evidence in the form of phone records provide the proof necessary for enforcement.
As a mother it scares me that the three children that I spend so much time caring for could be gone or severely injured in a moment. We protect them by making sure that they eat good food, dress appropriately for the weather, wear their seatbelt in the car, look both ways when crossing the road. Yet, there are so many, split seconds, that can turn a world upside down.
My heart goes out to the family of the Vermont skier, Cody Marshall. Cody is presently in a coma in Utah because of one of those split second silly things. One of those silly things that I could see my old boys doing, just goofing around, just being silly. One of those scary, bone-chilling moments that can bring a mother or father to their knees. Cody, 26 years old, from Pittsfield, Vermont is in Utah for training for the United States Ski Team. He was training for the 2010 Winter Olympics. He was out at the mall with some friends and slid down the rail of the escalator – a simple act that any boy might consider. Except this slide cost him, big time. He fell backward off the rail and fell 20 feet. He is now in a coma. A split second. Devastating.
His family has put up a blog to monitor his progress and report it to friends and family worldwide www.codymarshallsblog.com. I am sure that his family never expected to be at his bedside in a hospital monitoring him and showering him with prayers to come out of the coma and return to his life. As a mother it is a nightmare come true. My heart and prayers go out to he and his family. Shivers go up my spine to think that split seconds can break a mother’s heart and there is nothing that you can do to protect them from it. Life, that is.