A surprise donation from the most famous television millionaire in Palm Beach County could catapult a high school chorus into Carnegie Hall.
The Dimensional Harmony chorus of Boynton Beach High School was invited to perform on the famous New York stage in May, but the full 60-student ensemble needs $100,000 to arrive in New York and spend nearly a week there. The millionaire contributed $10,000 to the trip after the chorus performed Dec. 11 in Mar-A-Lago, Donald Trump ‘s mansion in Palm Beach, marking the ensemble ‘s first big donation. Chorus director Sterling Frederick said he nearly cried when Trump offered the money. The gesture contrasted with the stern boss he portrays in his reality TV series The Apprentice, Junior Danielle Dodge said. “He’s been a lot nicer than on TV,” she said. In spite of attempts by phone and e-mails to his New York office, Trump could not be reached for comment.
A New York performance would culminate in an award-winning year for the upcoming chorus. Members are trying to improve the image of their school, which the state has rated D because of its low standardized test scores for the last three years. In a national competition in Orlando, Dimensional Harmony recently won five first-place awards. Its members lack the private lessons that many art students in Palm Beach County have after-school lives. Students sing in the church, tap music in their heads on their desks or have innate talents that inspired Frederick to join the chorus. To stay in the group, students must maintain an average of 2.0. It’s not easy for some members to keep those C grades. ” I had a 0.8 and I never went to school,” Jean Baptiste said, “but I love singing and the chorus president began to help me with my homework. I now come to school and I have a 2.3.” The school seeks to emerge from its D status by offering art programs such as dance and theatre, which will attract students from outside the neighborhood.
Students consider the chorus room the home of the school, a safe place to escape academic, social and economic pressures. Many are poor enough to qualify for free lunch or come from homes with one parent. Frederick is seen as a second father. ” The choir is the family, the father, the brother, all I needed was here, “said Junior Pervess Anderson. ” It’s like going to counsel, but you’re not forced to go. There’s even a couch. “” You’re going into this room and there’s a lot of joy, “said Junior Terrance Davis. The chorus has raised little beyond Trump’s donation, although students plan to wash cars and perform additionally to raise the rest.