Kallie Smalley, an eighth-grade student from Hernandez Middle School, auditioned with middle school students from all across the United States and was selected to be part of the Organization of American Kodály Educators (OAKE) national conference youth choir.

In addition to auditioning for the youth choir, Kallie wrote an essay describing her interest in music and completed a rigorous application. Kallie’s essay earned her a $250 scholarship to help cover expenses to the conference.

“Choir is my life,” Kallie said. “When I found out I got into a national choir, I knew it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I was so happy I cried.”

Hernandez Choir Director Sarah Martinez has been Kallie’s teacher for three years and said she admires her dedication.

“Kallie is an incredibly hard worker and great role model,” Martinez said. “She sings in advanced choir and helps me teach sixth-grade choir classes. She has qualified for All-Region choir for the last two years and wanted a bigger challenge this year. Kallie practiced during lunch and after school for several weeks in preparation for the OAKE audition.”

Kallie will travel to Philadelphia, PA in March to participate in a four-day workshop with conductor Lynnel Joy Jenkins, artistic director of the Princeton Girl Choir. The program will conclude with a live performance for OAKE conference attendees.