Elaine Aikens | OneHandley | Winchester, Va

Elaine Aikens

“The choral program at Handley was so dear to me because I had taught many of these students at Daniel Morgan Middle School. It was a continuation of their musical experiences, and I was able to watch their growth physically, emotionally, and musically over the years. The graduating class of 2004 had many students in my chorus that I had taught for 7 years. We were a family who worked and performed together with the same expectations, goals, and commitments. The Hilltop Singers performed throughout the east coast receiving superior ratings, and internationally at the Bahamas Cruise Festival. They won the Grand Champion Show Choir award at Musicfest Orlando in Florida and have entertained on the Disney World and Universal City Walk stages. They performed with past Apple Blossom Grand Marshals such as Dan Aykroyd and Pat Boone. The Royal Command Performance was under my direction for 14 years.

We traveled to Myrtle Beach, Bahamas on a cruise, Disney World, Universal Studios, and New York City where they worked with a renowned Carnegie Hall musical director and Broadway Show actor. The most memorable performance was on the Disney World stage where crowds of people watched them in amazement. Even the Disney representatives said they were one of the best groups they had ever seen. When I taught at Daniel Morgan we sang at the White House and some of these students that I taught at Handley were with me then as well.

I cannot even express to you the happiness and fulfillment in my life that the students have given me these past 14 years in the Winchester system. They offer a true sense of accomplishment and reward to those who work with them. Their vitality and spirit are contagious. I hope that the self confidence that has been instilled within them will follow in all their endeavors. My fondest and most heartfelt experience has been the Apple Blossom Royal Command Performance. The roar of the applause behind me and the smiles and energy on that stage in our auditorium fill my heart with warmth and “Handley Pride.” The expressions on the students’ faces made all the endless hours of hard work well worth it.

I always received tremendous support and encouragement from Superintendents Dr. Burdick, Dennis Kellison and most fondly the support and friendship over the years of Doug Joyner my principal. His kind words kept me going when I would get discouraged. The extraordinary performance opportunities that have been offered to our students will be memories for a lifetime.”

© OneHandley 2022