The fifth grade chorus at P.S. 22 in Staten Island, NY has something to sing about. The word is out that they will be able to perform at President Barack Obama’s inauguration in Washington, D.C. on January 21.
The talented chorus which performed at last year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, as well as with “American Idol’ winner Phillip Phillips for a Hurricane Sandy fundraiser, were invited by New York Senator Chuck Schumer (through a tweet) to perform at the Presidential Inauguration. However, they didn’t have the funds needed to pay their way.
Chorus director Gregg Breinberg had given an estimate amount needed at $25,000, and after a few weeks, more than 100 donors donated toward the cause. They have now exceeded their ask amount.
“The kids are super stoked,” says Breinberg. “They always have a ton of energy, but now exponentially so.”
He says they’ve been busy trying to put together two new numbers before the inauguration — “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood and “One Dream” by Sarah Ann McLachlan.
“The people who donated were fans of the kids,” says the chorus director. “I definitely give them all the credit.”
One of the donations, a check for $225, came from a fifth grade honors class in P.S. 11 from Queens, NY. Their teacher, Carolyn Olszewski, says she saw the story on the news and thought it would be a good lesson to teach her class about their peers in another New York school who were raising money to be able to go the inauguration. She says she thought that collecting money for another fifth grade class would inspire her kids.
“We sent it in a Christmas card,” says Olszewski. “And one student wrote a poem for the card.”
That student was 10-year-old, Osmar Perez, and he wrote: “Greetings from class 501. We heard you’re going to Obama’s inauguration. Here is our cherished donation. We hope you enjoy the celebration.”
“I like to be kind…and I like to help others,” he says. “They are kids like us, so I know what they feel like. It’s a big honor to go to the inauguration.”
Taliah Piña, a 10-year-old member of the P.S. 22 chorus agrees and is grateful to be able to attend the inauguration in less than two weeks.
“It means a lot, because it’s a really great honor to be able to go,” she says. “We work really hard, and to know that when you work hard it pays off…Knowing that we get to sing for the president is a really great honor.”