Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

The Highlanders rehearse on the court before a Washington Wizards game.

Students Share Talents at Professional Stadium

Story by Lori Zerne

Students from Highland View Academy (HVA) recently shared their talents at the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., home to the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals.

The Highlanders, HVA’s elite choral group, sang the national anthem to open a Boston Celtics vs. Wizards game. The school earned this opportunity by submitting an audition video. David Niño, HVA’s music director, says the excitement of the performance “engaged and motivated students” for months.

When the day of the performance arrived, both Niño and the students felt nervous. Senior Mariah Lee-Wong says, “It finally hit me that we’d be singing in front of thousands of people.” Niño was concerned about performance logistics. “There was all kind of noise: loud music throughout the speakers, players warming up, news reporters and TV cameras going back and forth. I thought to myself, ‘How in the world will all these people pay attention to our music?’”

Complete silence filled the arena before the group sang, however, and the performance went smoothly. Niño says, “I could tell how proud my students were to represent our school.”

Senior Justin Tanguay says, “As we were walking off the court, a guy sitting in one of the courtside seats slapped all of our hands. ... As we were walking through the stadium, different people kept saying we did an awesome job. It was great that people actually took time to tell us that they enjoyed our performance.”

A few weeks later, HVA students returned to the arena—this time to play basketball. Erik Borges, HVA’s principal and athletic director, worked with Ryan Heilman, the athletic director from Shenandoah Valley Academy in New Market, Va., to rent the arena for a boys varsity basketball game between the two schools.

Senior Curtis Morris was elated to dunk on an NBA rim during warm-ups. “I now can say that I played on an NBA court,” he says.

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