Continuing the Winning Streak (Burke Connection)

I wrote this article for the local paper, the Burke Connection, after our high school took first place in the national competition at Bob Jones University. The article was printed on page 14: Connection Archives

Continuing the winning streak

Fairfax Baptist Temple Academy choral group claims first in the nation

by Jenneth Dyck, senior at Fairfax Baptist Temple Academy


April 17 marked the date for the Fairfax Baptist Temple Academy (FBTA) girls’ choral group as they placed first in the American Association of Christian Schools (AACS) national competition for the second year in a row at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina.

The group of 19 high school girls sang “Sound the Trumpet” by Purcell and “Lily of the Valley” by Moses Hogan in Stratton Hall on the Bob Jones campus, facing off against many other schools.

“The pieces I selected were considered to be Level III—and in some states—Level IV grade literature. Both pieces were very different from each other but displayed an enormous amount of vocal technique which allowed us to enter competitively,” said Audrey Peterbark, FBTA choral director.

With last year’s first place trophy and the third place trophy from the year before displayed at FBTA, the girls knew it was possible to take the victory again, but were cautious to keep confidence levels maintained.

“It is very hard to be a National Champion and return to the same performance venue.  Part of you can say, ‘We’ve done this before; we will for sure do it again.’ My advice to the girls in practice was that we have to attack the ‘mental’ portion of competition. We have to think and practice and perform like we have never done this. That was our only way of being able to compete successfully,” continued Peterbark.

On Wednesday morning, April 15, the FBTA girls fled their beds at the unholy hour of seven A.M. to frantically dress and do their hair, then rush to a hurried breakfast before performing at 8:30. Despite their best attempts to look presentable, Bob Jones was experiencing a torrential downpour of spring precipitation.

A few wind-whipped umbrellas and soggy choir dresses later, the girls followed Peterbark into the warm-up building. After ironing out minor details and a fervent prayer for God’s hand to be upon them, the girls entered the chapel from opposite sides of the room to converge on the stage’s risers.

Friday night at the awards ceremony, Fairfax sat in terrified anticipation as the choral group category approached. Suspense turned to jubilance at the announcement of first place, causing students and chaperones alike to bounce out of their seats in triumphant celebration.

“We finally made it after months of hard work—long months! When they announced first [place] I was overjoyed. I gasped, waited till our name was fully called, and screamed at the lop of my lungs—and I cried too! The Lord blessed us! He was the only reason we were there,” said Arianna Viera, sophomore and choral member.

“When our name was called, I had no thoughts, I just screamed really loud! I was thankful to God for allowing us to be rewarded for our hard work, and to secure a national title made the trip to Greenville worth it,” said Peterbark.

Also, placing second in the national competition was Rebecca Pan, senior, in woodwind solo with her piece, “Rondo Russo” by Saverio Mercadante, after years of struggle to finally make it to the top.

“I was just happy to be there and so thankful God gave me the opportunity to play flute at Nationals,” Pan said.

Other FBTA participants were Dan Austin, senior, his expository preaching ranking within the top six, and Ricky Schimkus, sophomore, with topical preaching, Jenneth Dyck, with expository essay, Haven Zakaria, sophomore, with her classical piano solo, and Alexis Amos, sophomore with her sacred piano solo.

“I had fun preaching and listening to other people preach, especially to my friend Ricky,” said Austin, who plans to study to be a pastor after graduation.

Adding to the celebration, Virginia placed first in the nation for the thirteenth year in a row, taking home the Cup of Excellence as its reward.


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