HULL—The voices of about 180 alumni will join together in songs of worship during Western Christian High School’s 100th anniversary celebration.
The Alumni Choir, led by former choir director Bill Bird, will sing during the All-School Banquet in the Western Christian gymnasium the evening of Saturday, Aug. 10, and during an afternoon worship service Sunday, Aug. 11.
“I was quite honored that they asked me to come back and direct it because I thoroughly enjoyed my teaching career at Western Christian; it was a great school,” Bird said.
‘One of the best’
The 72-year-old directed the school’s choir 1969-91 before moving to Holland, MI, where he taught at Holland Christian High School until retiring in 2009. He and his wife, Jenine, still live in Holland.
He said he remembers his choir students at Western Christian always were willing to try new music he presented them with. Many of his students took choir multiple years, which meant they were able to experience a variety of musical styles.
“Whatever I would give them, they would just, they would rally to it, and they’d work at it, no matter what it was,” Bird said.
Hull resident Don Krommendyk, who graduated from Western Christian in 1971, still enjoys singing and plans to participate in the Alumni Choir.
The 65-year-old said he was in choir all four years while attending Western Christian was one of Bird’s earliest students when Bird began teaching there.
He recalls Bird’s professionalism when it came to ensuring the choir members sounded good and looked good while singing.
“He was just one of the best choir directors there is,” Krommendyk said.
His children, Brad Krommendyk and Shelly Van Otterloo, also had Bird in choir when they attended Western Christian. Brad and Van Otterloo graduated in the early 1990s, meaning they would have been among the last group of choir students Bird taught during his time at Western Christian.
The school’s current choir director, 1986 graduate Darren Van’t Hul, also will be singing in the Alumni Choir. He said he remembers Bird’s energy and positivity while he took choir at Western Christian.
“That’s where my love for music started,” said Van’t Hul, who is entering his 22nd year of teaching at Western Christian.
Van’t Hul said he is looking forward to singing in the Alumni Choir and catching up with Bird during the weekend celebration.
The Alumni Choir will meet at 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, for a rehearsal to prepare for its performances Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.
Since the choir only has one chance to rehearse the songs it will sing over the weekend, Bird said he chose songs that likely will be familiar to the singers.
For its Saturday performance, the choir will sing an arrangement of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” by Peter Wilhousky and “Rhythm of Life,” arranged by Richard Barnes.
On Sunday, the choir will sing three songs: Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus, an arrangement of “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” by Gilbert Martin and “Christians, We Have Met to Worship” by Lloyd Larson.
Bird said he hopes the Alumni Choir’s performances will be times of praise and thanksgiving as well as memorable experiences for the singers.
“I want it to be something they remember as, you know, former friends and family to the school that we have a good time together and that we just can make some beautiful music,” he said.