Portland Christian Schools Preschool - Grade 12

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PCS Concert Choir takes the coveted State Championship

June 11, 2024


One of the songs the 2023-2024 PCS Concert Choir sang on May 2, 2024 at the OSAA State Choir Championships held at Oregon State University in Corvallis, was “The Meditations of My Heart” by Elaine Hagenberg. It was this song several of the choir members referred to as they debriefed together about their reactions when they heard the announcement that Portland Christian Schools took first place.  “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord.” This song has been important to these choir members throughout the school year.

It was unfortunate that ten of the choir members including choir director Mr. Joseph Ostrand (known also as Mr. O) had to leave together as three of the choir students had to attend a track & field meet in Aloha.  Travel regulations required an adult to travel with the students.  So when the announcements were made at the end of the championships, only six PCS students had remained to hear the results.

Let’s backtrack to the performance and requirements for the championship performance. PCS was part of the 2A/1A group of 12 schools, and had the smallest number of students in the choir.  Corbin Hughes and Isaac Schroder are the only boys out of the 16 choir members. Some of the girls (Susan Asaya, Calla Bye, Olivia Felton, Samantha Fernandez, Ari Harris, Olivia Holmstedt, Danna Ideson, Rebecca Klinger, Sarai Llontop, Myla Lown, Nhi Nguyen, Bella Orfield, Emma Ortman, Naomie Wagner and Angel Yang) also sing tenor as needed.

An important portion of the judges’ evaluation of each choir is the sight reading portion. The students recalled how Mr. O had gone through the rules and requirements. Their practice paid off – their score was the third highest out of all the schools in Oregon – 54 out of 60 points. Choir member Susan Asaya explained how they leaned on each other during their sessions. Even during their practices, Mr. Ostrand emphasized to them that it didn’t matter if the choir didn’t place, what mattered was to sing, praising God no matter what. Bella Orfield explained how Mr. O, “went the extra mile, inspiring us, pushing us out of our comfort zone, asking meaningful questions of how the songs affected one’s relationship with God.” Someone else echoed the words to one of their songs, “Love Shall be Our Token” (Music by Michael John Trotta, text by Christina Rossetti).

Love one another, by this all shall know that you are mine.
Love shall be our token, love be yours and love be mine;
Love to God, love to others, love as prayer and gift and sign.
O love shall be our token, love be yours and love be mine.

After PCS’ performances, most of the group including Mr. O had to leave due to the logistics of transporting students back to school. At OSU, in Corvallis, the six remaining students (Calla, Ariana, Olivia H, Samantha, Bella and Corbin) sat for over an hour, listening to the remaining schools perform. When the announcer began the awards with fifth place, anticipation was high for some of the students who had been praying for months regarding this competition. When students were informed that there was no third place as second place was a tie, and the second place winners announced, PCS was not mentioned.  Ari remembers squeezing Samantha’s hand very tightly. Corbin wondered, “What if?!” Bella continued praying (out loud!).

Minutes later, Mr. O, on the bus returning to school, received a text from Ari, “We won, we got first place.” His first response, “This is not a funny joke!!” Meanwhile, no one answered his phone calls to confirm the competition placement! But when they finally received cell phone photos of the award, “everyone on the bus screamed.”

Choir with State Award

Congratulations to Mr. Ostrand and his choir members – 2024 OSAA 2A/1A Choir State Champion – Portland Christian. What an achievement after a very busy year of practicing and performing. 






Written by Grace Dugger