Music and science converge for many students at The Madeleine Choir School. For a science fair project, Kieran Grant explored how listeners' responses to Handel's Water Music changed when the volume increased.
"When they played it at the louder volume they scrunched their faces and didn't like it one bit," Kieran said. "Almost everybody's reaction changed for the worse."
Now his interest in music and years in the choir are proving to be a springboard into engineering. Kieran is one of three recent MCS graduates selected for internships with Northrop Grumman. Only eight Utah high school students at a time serve the two-year internships in the leading global security firm's High School Involvement Partnership, or HIP, which comes with a $20,000 college scholarship.
Northrop Grumman selected Kieran this year (2013) and last year selected Zach Wolfe and Connor Boschert, both 2010 MCS graduates. All three boys now attend Salt Lake City's West High School and have competed on the swim team. After graduation this spring, Zach plans to study mechanical engineering at Montana State University, where he can ski and climb outside Bozeman, while Connor is weighing an enviable set of options for where to study.
These young men all credited choral commitments at The Madeleine Choir School and elsewhere for helping them build a potent work ethic that has served them well in high school and in life.
"It taught me about hard work. The choir isn't for the faint of heart. You have to stand for long periods of time. You learn a lot about team work," said Connor, who has played banjo since third-grade and loves performing the string classic "Dueling Banjos."
"My favorite part of the choir is that you watch all the different pieces come together. All the different pieces sounded incomplete but when it came together, it all fit."
Starting in fourth-grade, MCS students tackle music theory, learning relationships between notes and how they combine in harmony. The Northrop Grumman interns remember how this training spurred a facility with numbers that is helping drive their academic success now.
"I didn't understand why you had a sharp here but a flat there. [MCS music director Melanie Malinka] helped me realize there was a pattern to everything. It was seeing the patterns that helped me in math and science," Connor said.
The interns also credited former MCS teacher and administrator Patrick Lambert for nurturing their interest in science and James Witucki for helping them build a love of language. Mr. Lambert is now principal at St. Joseph Catholic High School in Ogden.
"The teachers and faculty here push you to study hard and get good grades, so I got in that mentality," Zach said. "Going into high school, I was surprised how many kids didn't care and that made me want to do well."
Kieran enjoyed learning Latin, another component of an MCS education that is rarely available elsewhere.
"You learn so much vocabulary from it," he said. "With the focus on Latin you can understand almost all the music that we sing and you can also tie those words back into English and get a good understanding of what a hard word is when you break it down into stems."
Kieran has continued his interest in performance to stages beyond choir with recent appearances, including a solo performance as the street vendor in Oliver at West High School. But choir formed the foundation for his interest in community service and academics. He served as an adult member of the Cathedral of the Madeleine for his freshman and sophomore years in high school, and raised over $3,000 to pay his own way on the Choir's International Tour in February 2013.
"It is a really rigorous thing to undertake. At this school they train you from the start to be able to handle it. It's really high paced so if you take that and put it toward your work ethic, it sets you up," he said. "You know how to handle everything and you're golden."
Written and publish October 2013 by Brian Maffly