Changes at Berlin High to include structure of choir classes

Published on Thursday, 25 January 2018 22:23
Written by Charles Paullin


BERLIN - Berlin High School will offer some of its courses a bit differently in next school year, with the biggest change occurring in choir classes.

The Board of Education on Monday voted to approve changes in the program of studies, as is usually done around this time of year.

The choir class changes would remove the chorale and concert choir classes and replace them with separate men’s and women’s choirs. Bella Voce, the advanced choir course, would still be offered and expanded to grade 10 from just 11 and 12.

The change would allow teacher Tyler Boyle to focus on boys and girls developing their voices separately, rather than having both in the same class, he said.

If students want to join a mixed choir, Bella Voce is still an option, as well as Madrigals, an extracurricular activity.

“It is easier to do that if you do separate (classes),” said Boyle.

He said there are about 40 ninth-grade students, in the current chorale choice, 10 to 12 of them boys.

The new men’s course is expected to have 21 students, said Boyle. Both the new choirs would still perform certain pieces together at concerts.

The change would also ease some of the pressure of performing in front of members of the opposite sex, Boyle said.

West Hartford, Avon and Simsbury have made similar changes successfully, said Boyle.

Boyle said the program can be switched back to the current model if it isn’t liked in the first year.

Boyle will notify parents of his enrolled students of the changes and solicit feedback from them in the quarterly email he sends to them.

If the feedback is against the new course, or enrollment isn’t as expected, the district can adjust the offerings to what is more desired by student and parents of the students.

The caveat was added after board members Julia Dennis, Jaymee Miller and Kari Sassu voiced concern over making the changes without direct input from parents, who may be interested.

Dennis recalled when the board made a decision last year to move high school graduation from CCSU to the high school gym and received flak from parents, after not asking them for feedback from them. The decision was reversed.

“So I think we’re trying to learn from past mistakes,” she said.

Other changes include a new art history course, reinstatement of a biology course and suspension social studies at the learning center to have courses more applicable to the students enrolled.

More general technology education courses on house wiring, electrical safety, computer building and transportation systems are also being introduced.

The students will receive their program of studies book at the end of February and begin making course selections for 2018-19 in early March, said interim Principal Barbara Ventura.

Board member Timothy Oakes said he was in full support of the changes as they were presented.

Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin on Thursday, 25 January 2018 22:23. Updated: Thursday, 25 January 2018 22:25.