Despite COVID-19, Ms. Stock Keeps the Melody in Teaching

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A Photo from Ms. Stock’s First Choir Concert at YHS

At Yorktown High School, there are many teachers who are dedicated to their jobs and know how to lead their students in the right direction toward success. Ms. Stock is one of these teachers. Ms. Stock is the choir conductor and the advisor of the Drama Club at YHS. She has always loved singing, performing, and, most of all, helping others reach their full potential. Ever since Ms. Stock was little, there was nothing else she wanted to do as a career. Growing up, she was part of choir at her school, and was fortunate enough to have a very supportive teacher who always encouraged her.  Seeing that she really enjoyed choir, the teacher let her lead the other students in warm-ups and rehearsals. Her teacher saw the potential she had back then, just like how Ms. Stock sees the potential in her students today.

Like all teachers, Ms. Stock has had some “this is why I do this” moments. An unforgettable moment happened to her recently, right before the Thanksgiving break. Her students had come to school in-person that Monday and Tuesday right after being fully remote for a week. They hadn’t sung together in a while. Once the music started, however, it was like they never left. The whole class sounded so good together, and they were lost in their music. Ms. Stock also feels the same type of awe the nights of her concerts or musicals, when the shows finally come together and everyone performs beautifully. In that moment, the hard work and endurance of getting to that point feels so rewarding. Along with specific moments, there have also been particular students in the past who have just blown her away. Abby Menocal, YHS Class of 2019, always managed to amaze Ms. Stock with her talent. She was naturally talented and clearly born a leader. She needed no direction or help. She was a role model for all the other students. During her senior year, the school put on the Disney classic, Little Mermaid. She was cast as Ariel, the star of the show. On the day of one of the performances, she had an audition for a college. She completed her audition, and still managed to make it at the start of the show and do a phenomenal job. Every time she sang “Part of Your World,” Ariel’s big ballad, she blew the whole audience away. She was part of choir, president of the Drama Club, and she still managed to do auditions here and there. She put her all into everything, and Ms. Stock couldn’t have been more impressed. 

Due to COVID-19, many industries have been deeply affected. This includes the music and theater industries. Ms. Stock says that there was “definitely” a time where she thought she wouldn’t be able to direct drama or choir anymore. She said she became worried when studies about the dangers of singing during the pandemic were coming out and teachers on Facebook forums said they were losing their jobs. She was concerned about how she would manage to continue choir and drama during COVID-19. Ms. Stock is very grateful for the administration and her fellow music teachers for being so supportive of the music program in Yorktown. Luckily, she now feels as if everything is normal, fortunate her students are still able to sing, and happy that Yorktown continues to be a community. 

In order to overcome the huge barrier of COVID-19, Ms. Stock had to make a lot of changes. On top of wearing masks, she spaced out her room since everyone must be twelve feet apart. The maximum amount of students she can have in her classroom at a time is eight. Ms. Stock has bought her students mask brackets that go under the mask, so that when they sing the mask doesn’t restrict them. When they’re in school, they sing while the remote students follow along. When everyone is at home, they sight read (playing music without previous rehearsal of the piece) and do music theory activities. Along with choir class, Ms. Stock had to figure out a way to continue doing shows for the Drama Club. During the fall, she chose to put on a production of Clue. The production was completely virtual, including the callbacks, rehearsals, and auditions. Instead of having cutbacks, the show was double casted. Ms. Stock didn’t want to cut anyone from the cast list because if they came to auditions during the pandemic, that meant they were willing to overcome a barrier, and they deserved a part. This year there was no crew, just Ms. Stock. She recorded all of the scenes over Zoom and edited them all in iMovie. She sent each cast member a costume kit, props, and they each had a green screen that would be edited with backgrounds created by one of Ms. Stock’s students. Actors were given a chance to have multiple takes per line or scene. It was “kind of like a T.V. show,” said Ms. Stock. 

The pandemic hasn’t only affected industries, but it has also affected individuals. Students all over the globe are participating in virtual classes. Due to this change, many students have had a change in motivation and effort, for better and for worse. Many teachers are noticing this change in students. Ms. Stock noticed a decline in some students’ motivation, particularly last spring, when virtual learning first began. She said that for the most part, those kids dropped choir this year. Students that came to choir this year really want to be part of an ensemble, something that’s bigger than they. Most kids want to be in class, and are not afraid to sing out loud. Choir is a big part of life for those who returned. During trying times like this, it’s hard to stay optimistic and enthusiastic. Ms. Stock wants to let her students know that they should always put their best foot forward. She says it’s a life skill to be flexible, and the pandemic has taught us all that we must be flexible. “Embrace change, learn to be flexible, and learn to thrive!”