It is hard to consider the concept of “tradition” without the familiar strains of “Fiddler on the Roof” running through my brain.  However, with the end of the school year approaching, so many of our Glenbrook traditions have been put into practice.  We’ve sung “White Christmas” at the Winter Concert, shared in the singing of the “Loyatlty Song” in the freezing cold after choir tour, delivered our Singing Valentines, seen the seniors’ baby pictures at the banquet and given them flowers at our spring concert, and are looking forward to our Concert in the Park and Graduation.  And where would we be without “Fruitcake”? Knowing that we are participating in these events as so many have done before us helps us feel a part of something that is greater than ourselves.  We feel connected to the past, and lay the groundwork for the future.  There is real value in holding on to tradition and participating in these practices from year to year.

But what about new traditions?  When is it time to let some of our old traditions go and to introduce new ones?  A typical student spends four years at GBN, so doing something once or twice can quickly be viewed as “tradition” in a student’s eyes.  Not long ago, we went through the painful process of replacing “Bridge Over Troubled Water” with other songs for our Awards Ceremony.  At the time, this was not a popular decision.  However, for the past several years, we have been able to perform songs that were more specific to the theme of the Awards Ceremony and, I think, just as meaningful to the singers and audience.

It is healthy for our school and for the choral program to continually reflect on what we are doing and why, and to evolve according to our needs.  Sometimes this process is easy, but more often, we find change to be difficult.  For a bit of historical perspective, here are a few “traditions” that have come and gone…

Our spring concert used to be held outside in a tent the evening of Springfest.  Huge hassle and big expense.  And in case of rain?  Well, we just got wet.

Before “Bridge”, there was “Life is a Celebration”.  This life-affirming anthem was sung every year at our traditional “Celebration of Life” concert, held every November.  The solos in this piece were the most highly coveted solos of the entire year.  I admit to having a soft spot for this song, but it is hard to believe that the kids got emotional about singing “Life is a celebration. Celebrate life, celebrate life! and then shouting “Yeah!”.  Really corny.

Traditionally, only Chorale and Cecilian sang on our Techny concerts.  Treble and Var/Spar never got the opportunity to perform in that amazing venue.

For many years, Ow! limited their number to 4 guys.  They really resisted growing to 5, then to 6, and now to 7, which is where they are today.  I think this change has been for the best.

What are some of your favorite GBN Choir traditions?  Feel free to share your thoughts by replying to this post.

2010-2011 Choral Awards

Congratulations to all singers on a wonderful year!

Outstanding Choral Member of the Year

Treble 2/3: Emily Westel

Treble 6/7: Kara Cooper

Varsity/Spartan: Shae Beckett

Cecilian Singers: Rebecca Elowe

Chorale: Annie Luc

4×4: Jake Gordon

Ladies First: Bansry Shah

Express: Annie Luc

Fermata Nowhere: Brooke Papritz


Outstanding Freshman in Choir

Ellie Schnittman & Lesley Levy

Outstanding Sophomore in Choir

Jordy Shulman

Outstanding Junior in Choir

Aaron Kohrs

Outstanding Senior in Choir

Nicole Mitroussias


Shannon Reese Memorial Award

Ryan Hultman


Arion Award Recipient

Nicole Mitroussias

Judy Moe Scholarship

Nicole Mitroussias


4th Quarter Awards

4th Quarter Outstanding Choir Members
Treble 2/3: Robin Dean
Treble 6/7: Amy Lakowski
Varsity/Spartan: Shawn Killian
Cecilian: Sarah Cell
Chorale: Rob Blumstein

GBN Choir alum meets Obama!

David Benning, GBN class of 2004 and former choir student, met President Obama during the President’s visit to Ft. Campbell, where David is currently stationed. David and his twin brother, Mark, were both in choir at GBN for four years.

Both brothers are serving in the U.S. Army and have spent time in Afghanistan. Please join me in thanking Mark and David for their service!

What Does It Mean To Perform? 5/9/2011

As technology becomes woven into our society, no aspect of our lives seems to be untouched. Live performances carry so much power and weight, but it is interesting to think what sort of impact virtual performances can have on a listener. This CNN clip features Eric Whitacre and his virtual choir- what a cool concept! But it does get one thinking… how might music and fine arts be developed in a virtual world? How will this change our view of ‘art’?

Journal Pilot in Choir a Success! 5/2/2011

I wanted to try something different in my classes that let every student express their thoughts on a variety of topics ranging from music to friendship. For the 4th quarter, students in Cecilian have been journaling for a timed portion of class (5 minutes) on a new prompt every day. As I created prompts (with the help of my lovely lab assistants), I wanted my students to have the chance to reflect, critically think, and explore their thoughts or ideas on paper. Certain prompts were as straightforward as “explain standing singing posture, from toes to head”, while others demand a more personal and thoughtful approach, “why do we sing?” Every class we have one or two students share a past entry.

Journal Example: Allie Handzel Entry #1

Prompt: Explain the phrase “It’s not funny to be bad”. Why is this important?

Mr. Wallace’s phrase, “it’s not funny to be bad”, means that when you do something wrong or it wasn’t your best effort, that it’s not a laughing matter. Mr. Wallace expects a lot of us and knows what we’re capable of. When we goof off or do something badly, it is disappointing to him and ourselves, and therefore should not be funny.

At the end of our process each student will take their journal home and complete a set of prompts with parents or guardians. This important extension not only holds the students responsible for their written work, but opens up our classroom for a more collaborative and enriching community experience.

I like the journal exercise because we take time out of class to write down our thoughts. And in a lot of classes we don’t get to write our thoughts on personal ideas that aren’t solely academic.” – Kasey Ockerlund

It is very intriguing to me to read the spectrum of thoughts, perspectives, and dreams of every student. This process has been very easy to implement into my classroom and has been professionally very rewarding. I know students appreciate my class for its engaging, stimulating, and fun environment, but it is nice for me to break out of my choir director “mold” and explore different methods of teaching and assessment.


Welcome to Mr. Wallace’s Blog! 4/29/2011


I am so happy to have a wonderful new interactive space for our choral department. This is an awesome forum for sharing information, dialoging about neat music happenings, and catching a glimpse of our unique and excellent program.

Share with us! Feel free to comment on blog posts or e-mail us pictures. As we continue to develop this website, we hope to use it as our main ‘hub’ for transporting and interacting with information, ideas, and our community.

-Mr. Wallace

Meet Mr. Prikkel!

I am very happy and privileged to be student teaching here at Glenbrook North.  So far it has been a wonderful experience working with a great program full of such wonderfully talented students and choral directors.  I would just like to take the opportunity to tell you a little information about me.

I am from Rolling Meadows, Illinois and a graduate of Rolling Meadows High School.  During high school, I participated in many facets of the music program.  Some notable moments include being Drum Major of the marching band, president of the Rolling Meadows competitive show choir “New Directions” (yes Glee stole the name), and playing the role of King in the RMHS Madrigal Dinners.  I was also in several theatrical productions, with my favorite being Fiddler on the Roof.

After high school, I spent a year living and studying in Ecuador.  It was in working with and serving local youth in the town of La Merced that I developed my passion to teach.  After that year, I returned to Chicago and started attending North Park University.  Besides singing in the University Choir and Gospel Choir at North Park, I also have been able to play trumpet, euphonium, and trombone in the Concert Band and Jazz Band. As a member of University Choir, I have been fortunate to perform locally as well across the Midwest, the west coast, and as a featured choir at the final MENC National Convention (Milwaukee, WI) in 2007.

When not teaching I enjoy carpentry, visiting Major League Baseball Stadiums across the U.S., and driving boats on the lakes of upstate New York.  I am also a very avid theatre goer and had the opportunity to work for Broadway in Chicago during which time I had the unfortunate pleasure of seeing Wicked over 95 times (trust me, it gets old).