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'Voices' of Carroll County students join to commemorate War of 1812

By Katie V. Jones

11:21 PM EDT, September 15, 2012

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Francis Scott Key High School's auditorium was filled with red, white and blue on Wednesday night, Sept. 13, as the school hosted "Voices of Freedom," a program designed to honor the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 through dance, song, music and readings.

Featuring students from Runnymede Elementary, New Windsor Middle and FSK, the event was coordinated by Mickey Brilhart, a visual arts teacher at FSK, and Shellie Rosso, the high school's dance teacher.

The program was created after the school's administration approached the fine arts department last year requesting ways to recognize the War of 1812 — and its link to Francis Scott Key, who lived in Carroll County and penned the words by dawn's early light that became our national anthem.

"I think we are the only high school named after Francis Scott Key," Kenneth Fischer, assistant principal said. "We should be doing something for our namesake."

The presentation was a challenge for all groups, as it was scheduled very early in the school year. School officials said plans are already in the works to hold a similar event for the next two years, though closer to Veterans Day.

"Further into the school year, everyone will be a little more prepared," Brilhart said. "We'll just build on it and hopefully continue it for the next couple of years."

Twenty-five students from Runnymede Elementary School's honors chorus sang two numbers. Under the direction of Karen Sirian, choral director, the group waved American flags during their numbers.

"I became involved because we are always so proud to be part of this region with FSK," Sirian said. "The students are just so excited to be here."

Jasmine Defoor, a fifth-grader at Runnymede, performed in two groups. She played her clarinet in a combined performance that brought together the Francis Scott Key High, New Windsor Middle and Runnymede Elementary bands. Later, she sang with her school's honors chorus.

All smiles, Jasmine said enjoyed the evening's final performance the most — even though she was a spectator for that.

"The last band was fun," Jasmine giggled, referring to the performance of "God Bless the USA" by FSK's faculty band, a group dubbed Technical Difficulties.

"We make it fun," said Fischer of the five-member band. "Anything to support the kids."

Madi Moreland, a senior at FSK, sang "God Bless America." Over the summer, Moreland sang with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at one of its patriotic concerts. That performance prepared her well for Wednesday's show in front of the hometown crowd.

"It was amazing," Moreland said of the BSO experience. "It didn't rain and I didn't mess up."

A guidance counselor and member of Technical Difficulties, Ron Kutscher was impressed with the concert and the overall efforts of the students.

"I thought the kids were just great," Kutscher said. "The faculty put a lot of work in this and then the community involvement ... there was more than one school. It was just wonderful."

Brilhart was happy with all the participation from the local schools, too.

"It was good to see the kids come out," Brilhart said.""They think it is cool to be with the older kids."