Band director Mark Morello is still excited about his Bristow students' recent performance.

The Brentwood middle school singers wowed the crowd at the teacher of the year event in Concord.

"It was a great honor to perform for 500 outstanding teachers, administrators, school board members and business leaders," said Morello, an honored teacher himself in 2009.

"We sang at Barnes & Noble the third week of school, but this was definitely their first big 'gig.' "

The group consists of more than 70 seventh- and eighth-graders.

Morello is proud of the whole program but said a "standout moment came as they started to sing" the folk song "Liza Jane."

"Their eyes widened, and they all smiled, as if to tell me, 'Wow! We sound great!' That's my favorite expression from my students during a concert," said the clearly delighted instructor.

Another favorite moment was "Take These Wings" with eighth grader Katherine Elera on flute and former student Alex Marquez on piano.

The last song was "The Storm is Passing Over," which Morello referenced in his speech four years ago. "It's about how teachers can weather any storm, but it's the positive impact on students that endure."

Morello was in awe realizing the "vast majority of students had never been in a choir before. They just blew me away!"


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The choir hits the stage next during the Brentwood tree lighting ceremony on Nov. 24 and Bristow's winter concert on Dec. 6. On Jan. 26, it performs the national anthem at a Stockton Thunder game, and on March 3 at a Sacramento Kings NBA game for 20,000 fans. "My students are very excited."

Morello first taught choir at Bristow in 1995, took a break to teach elsewhere, then returned in 2006.

"My students are wonderful, energetic, sweet, and make me laugh every day."

POLITICS 101: With the big election less than a month away, Liberty High students recently jumped into the fray.

Reps for congressional candidates Ricky Gill and Jerry McNerney visited the Brentwood high school with information and a chance for student internships.

Teacher Manny Lopez spearheaded the event, and is happy that about 35 students signed up for internships.

During the program, students received info on the candidates and the issues. Plus, the school's debate club members helped students register online to vote.

"The representatives interacted very well with the students," Lopez said. "I (saw) several students actively questioning the representatives about ... issues such as civil marriage equality."

Lopez liked the aspect of the internship option. "Since all seniors must complete 20 hours of community service, this was an excellent opportunity to arrange time (for them)."

The teacher was pleased with the day's results.

"As educators, we appreciate the importance of providing those opportunities ... I hope the students are better informed and more motivated to be involved and to vote."

TIME TO MEET: The Oakley school district presents two public forums on the financial challenges the district faces and the effects of Prop. 30. The free forums, open to all, will be: at 7 p.m. Oct. 16 at Delta Vista Middle, 4901 Frank Hengel Way; and at 7 p.m. Oct. 22 at O'Hara Park Middle, 1100 O'Hara Ave. For more information, call 925-625-0700.

If you have school news to share, contact Trine Gallegos at trineg@att.net. You can also reach Judith Prieve at jprieve@bayareanewsgroup.com.