With Two-Time Teacher of the Year Todd at the Helm, Bonita’s Chamber Singers and Concert Choir Win National Honors

March 25, 2010
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The Bonita High School Chamber Singers perform for the judges at the "The Festival of Gold" that was held in Chicago, Illinois.

The Bonita High School Chamber Singers perform for the judges at the "The Festival of Gold" that was held in Chicago, Illinois.

The Bonita High School Chamber Singers and Concert Choir beat choirs from throughout the nation in “The Festival of Gold” that was held in Chicago, Illinois. The Chamber Singers received the top honor in the Chamber Choir category and the Concert Choir received the same honor in the Large Choir category. The win was a culmination in the 26-year career of director Todd Helm.

“The Festival of Gold” is one of the nation’s most prestigious choral competitions. The Chamber Singers and Concert Choir qualified to compete after winning top honors at the “2009 Heritage Choral Festival” in San Diego. After having qualified for many years, this was the first time that Bonita High School’s award-winning choirs competed at this annual festival.

After topping 16 groups from Indiana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Wisconsin and more, each of which qualified to attend the festival by achieving gold awards in 2009, the Chamber Singers and Concert Choir sang an “Encore” performance at the famous Chicago Orchestra Hall, home of the world-renowned Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Both groups received a standing ovation from the audience made up of all festival participants as well as friends and families. On the five-day trip, the 94 La Verne students and 12 accompanying adults also visited many of Chicago’s world-class museums and landmarks.

“‘Winning the “Festival of Gold’ in Chicago is a great honor for the choir program at Bonita,” said Helm. “We’ve been working many years to build the program up to this level of excellence. To be honored at a national level and have the whole thing end with a performance at Chicago Symphony Hall is a dream come true for a student musician as well as a music educator. And to conduct on that stage is a real highlight of my teaching career.”


The Bonita High School Chamber Singers perform in the "Encore" performance at the famous Chicago Orchestra Hall, home of the world-renowned Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

“‘The Festival of Gold’ was an experience that I will never forget for the rest of my life,” says Jarred Barnard, a senior and member of The Chamber Singers. “I got to work with some of the most amazing and talented choir directors ever, meet talented students from around the country, hear wonderful choirs and perform on one of the most prestigious stages in the world. I am so thankful to have been a part of such a delightful experience that I will keep close to my heart forever.”

Bonita High School’s strong choral music program is a result of Helm’s work developing musical and performing skills in students in the 6th through 12th grades. The foundation in music starts with work by Deb Was in the elementary schools of the Bonita School District. At a time when schools are experiencing cutbacks, the Bonita choral program is expanding.

The Bonita High School Chamber Singers, the most elite choir at the school, have traveled around the country and won top prizes in numerous competitions. The group typically consists of between 24 and 30 members. The Bonita High School Concert Choir consists of approximately 60 members and has been lauded in many competitions. Entry to both groups is by audition.

Todd Helm directs the choral music program at Bonita High School and Ramona Middle School. In 1993 and 2009, Helm was named Teacher-of-the-Year by the Bonita Unified School District.

The “Festival of Gold” is produced by Heritage Festivals, a national program that was developed by music educators to help choirs, bands and orchestras achieve standards of excellence in music performance.

Bonita's Award-Winning Concert Choir

Bonita's Award-Winning Concert Choir

Concert Choir



Nareg Avakian, Alyxe Barnes, Victoria Barron, Olivia Bartlett, Carly Bierman, Kyle Burns, Katherine Campanella, Tyler Cortez, Lisa Elliot, Spencer Feger, Dylan Fisher, Sharayah Grattan, Anthony Guzman, Rose Hart, Heather Helton, Travis Hensley, Nicholas Hepburn, Rebecca Hernandez, Felicia Hong, Sydney Johnson, Trevor Johnson, Marcus Klotz, Victoria La Pierre, Joseph Lamson, Ivan Lopez, Gabrielle Mabrouk, Robert Marquez, Margaret Marshall, Kaitlyn Marston, Russell Massro, Kathleen Mc Cullough, Matthew Migdat, Marc Mijares, Tyler Miller, Amanda Moore, Alexander Munson, Eric Palmer, Chandler Perez, John Pride, Victoria Prieto, Megan Rasmussen, Keaton Renta, Ricardo Reyes, Audrey Rossell, Kelsey Samuelson, Amanda Santomero, Christopher Santomero, Matthew Saunders, Marielle Shrock, Clint Simone, Elyse Smith, Alison Stickley, Tiffany Stillwell, David Talley, Joshua Tolar, Kevin Truong, Landon Van Leeuwen, Richard Walker, Diana Wallace, Byron Ward, Christie White, Jacob Willard, Collin Woo, Madison Zylstra

Chamber Singers

Vincent Abbene,  Matthew Acevedo, Jarred Barnard, Angela Caigoy, Michael Calvanico, Colin Campbell, Chase Colwell, Joseph Corral, Kelsey Graeber, Mariah Grattan, Alison Guajardo, Meaghan Henderson, Ryan Hicken, Emily Kawamoto, Christopher Maldonado, Dustin McMinn, Dana Meshkin, Laura Mueller, Jami Newcomer, Julianne O’Brien, Luke Pettygrove, Laura Pluth, Cody Sanchez, Katelyn Spiro, Meghan Tarrosa, Chad Tomeck, Sage Tomita, Derek Tonks, Emily Tucker, Candice Ward

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