A group of aspiring young musicians took their voices to the state Capitol on Tuesday — and not to lobby for a cause, but to revive some spirit of hope and patriotism as a gift from “The City With Spirit.”
On hand to greet the Arnold Memorial Elementary Choir and their parent chaperones to Nashville, known to many as Music City, was state Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland who represents the 24th Legislative District.
“The Arnold singers performed the state song and patriotic music in the Great Hall near the House of Representatives Chamber,” Brooks said. “Their wonderful talent was enjoyed by all and complimented by House Speaker Beth Harwell and Secretary of State Tre Hargett.”
During the visit by the Cleveland group, Brooks arranged for a Capitol tour and a special meal served to the guests in the Legislative Library, which he described as a “rare treat” for visitors of that age.
“It’s a joy to welcome these amazing students to our State Capitol,” the longtime legislator stressed. “They have worked hard and practiced long hours on this music. I am thrilled that everyone in the Capitol had the opportunity to hear them sing.”
Brooks also brought the Arnold vocalists and parents into the House and Senate Chambers to give the visitors a unique, behind-the-scenes look at the proceedings.
“My dream is for one of you to begin to think about your life in public service, just like I did on a school trip to the Capitol,” Brooks told the youngsters at the start of the Capitol tour.
The Arnold Mustang Singers are a select group of 50 singers from the fourth and fifth grades of Arnold Memorial Elementary School. The historic school dates back to 1929, and serves one of the most diverse populations within the city of Cleveland. Arnold students come from more than 22 nations, including Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Dubai, Columbia, Guatemala, Africa, the Philippines, Ukraine, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Mexico.
The students sing a variety of music, from classical songs sung in different languages to contemporary sounds. They are often guest performers at community events in Cleveland and Bradley County, as well as community service projects at local nursing homes and local business establishments.
The Arnold group was personally invited to sing at the Tennessee State Capitol by Brooks.
Choir director is Siema Bailey Swartzel, who is a graduate of Lee University and California State University at Fresno. She is a nationally board-certified music specialist in early childhood music, and was recognized as a Yale University Distinguished Music Educator in 2013.
In 2014, Swartzel was selected to represent the 4th District of Tennessee in a congressional event to speak to panel in Washington, D.C., about the importance of excellence in the education profession. The event was sponsored by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
“She (Swartzel) is passionate about bringing excellent music instruction into her classroom and developing a lifelong love of music in her students,” Brooks said of the popular instructor.
A follow-up story by staff writer Delaney Walker, on the Arnold Mustang Singers’ visit and performance in the state Capitol, featuring interviews with some of the kids, will be published in a later edition of the Cleveland Daily Banner.