The Tower Pulse

The Tower Pulse

The Tower Pulse


What's your favorite winter activity

  • Go ice skating (25%, 1 Votes)
  • Build a snowman (25%, 1 Votes)
  • Watch movies (25%, 1 Votes)
  • Go sledding (25%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 4

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Movin’ up on the Southside

The senior class have seen three different choir directors over the past four years, the newest being Carolyn Gross. Over the summer, the district hired Gross to be the new choir director after former director Vince Matia resigned.

Gross isn’t a new hire for the district. She worked as the choir director for Brownell Middle School before coming to South. For some, she’s a familiar face; others, completely new. The many changes in directorship have been difficult for many choir students.“It’s always tough at the very start,” South Singers and Pointe Singers member Alex Cline ’25 said. “Right as you feel like everything is going great, everything changes once again; but it’s not the worst because this time it’s changing for the better.”

CLARIFICATION Gross answers questions about how to read music in the g-clef. One of the new elements Gross brings to rehearsal is instruction on basic music theory, which has proved to be an important addition the daily schedule. (Paul Kaminski ’24)

Gross said she aims to create more constancy in a sea of transitions.“(My goal is to) honor the seniors who have had a lot of transition in their high school years, so I want them to do really well at competition,” Gross said.For Gross, there are more similarities than differences between teaching at Brownell and South.“It’s like driving a faster car,” Gross said. “It’s basically the same, but the car goes faster. There’s more performance opportunities; you’re the higher performance vehicle.”

Once again Gross’ student, lifelong singer Zach Neme ’26 said that his middle school choir education wasn’t just regurgitating melodies.“(Gross) laid out a very good foundation of music theory for us (at Brownell),” Neme said. “We did sing some really nice technical pieces.”Gross didn’t leave the music theory at the door. She implements daily exercises and worksheets on basic musical concepts, such as key signatures, note length and intervals.“I do enjoy music theory; I enjoy the nitty gritty,” Neme said. “I think music theory is helpful. Specifically, music theory can help us sight sing better. It’s better, with matching tone and pitch.”

According to Cline, this new aspect of music theory builds a better balance between show and choir, allowing for a more ideal choir.“With Mr. Mattia, I always felt like the show choir was more focused on dancing than it was singing,” Cline said. “ Mrs. Gross is helping people like me understand the singing aspect of show choir more.”Neme described last year’s director Mattia as a hands-on teacher.“Mr. Mattia was very involved,” Neme said. “He ended up doing quite a bit, whether it be setting up our competition sets or choosing the songs for various concerts.”Gross puts a greater emphasis on involving students’ voices in how she runs the choir, according to Neme.“With larger decisions, (Gross) consults us first (and) gets our opinions on it,” Neme said. “At least if we can’t be formally involved, she gets our opinions.”

Additionally, Gross is building a more disciplined, driven choir, according to Cline.“I feel like (Gross) wants better for us,” Gross said. “She wants to be more focused on our goals and I really appreciate that. That allows us to focus better and it helps us pay attention more.”

THEORY IN ACTION Alongside accompanist Richard Wolf, Gross teaches the South Singers about different intervals between notes. (Paul Kaminski ’24)

In years past, the Pointe Singers have placed highly in competitions around the country. As the nation locked down, the choir program saw some challenges in virtual learning. Cline said he feels like Gross will build the choir back to its tradition of excellence after the pandemic’s ravages.“(Gross) is bringing back the choir to how great it used to be before COVID,” Cline said. I’m really excited to see what she has in store for us because this could be the time for the choir to go back to its glory days.”

Also optimistic, Neme said he is looking forward to the choir’s future with Gross.“As a choir, we have some things to work on, of course, but this year is going to be pretty good,” Neme said. “In the coming years, Mrs. Gross has a lot to give us and she has a lot to show us. I feel like we should be open to that and I think most of us are.”

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About the Contributor
Paul Kaminski ’24, Supervising Copy Editor
In a busy and action-packed life with swimming, cross country, track, quiz bowl and DECA, Supervising Copy Editor Paul Kaminski ’24 still finds time to enjoy the little things in life.“I’m a big fan of salsa music, I feel like it includes a lot of rhythmic variation,” Kaminski said. “I think it’s a very nice genre—especially when you can understand Spanish—and I feel it really helped me to get a good score on the AP Spanish test.”Listening to salsa music isn’t something new for Kaminski.“The first time I heard it I was sitting in a little gray and black speckled computer chair,” Kaminski said. “ My dad put on the music video for a song by a singer called Celia Cruz, and I really enjoyed it. I was spinning around in my chair like a maniac.”For Kaminski, the Tower is a great way for him to express his ideas that he wouldn’t normally be able to.“You can experiment with photography, opinion writing, graphic design, and film criticism all in the same class,” Kaminski said.

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