Dave Lindo, Gleaner Writer
MANDEVILLE, Manchester:THE PARISH of Manchester is still celebrating Manchester High School's historic victory in the 2012 TVJ All Together Sing choir competition.
After placing third last year, the Mandeville-based institution through hard work, dedication, determination by the talented choir and their choir director Adiel Thomas went all the way to cop the number-one spot from second- place winners Oracabessa High School and third-place Vauxhall High School.
Manchester maintained a high standard throughout the competition, displaying some truly classic performances, which 'bowled over' the judges and their countless supporters from Manchester and right across Jamaica.
After celebrating at school and doing a victory march through the town of Mandeville on Monday to thank the community for their support, the Manchester High family were still overjoyed about their victory days after their official celebration.
Lower sixth-form student Brendon Coleman, president of the choir, was elated. "Words can't express the way how I feel," he said. This is my sixth year on the choir. I was disappointed in coming so close and losing last year, but we got it right this time around."
Speaking on the work that they had to put in, he said: "It was a lot of hard work. We started training in September. We camp over just to learn the songs because sometimes the songs are very complexed."
He added: "At the same time, we have to balance our schoolwork with being on the choir. We managed to do that with proper time management because all of us do well academically. Even when you are tired, when you go home, you have to train your body to rest up a bit and then do your schoolwork."
Lashoy Russell who also has been on the choir for six years, said it was a team effort. As she explained, "It was a very good experience. We worked together and moved as a family, and it is that unity, which enabled us to work together in making the victory possible."
Kemar Decosta, who is in his second year on the choir, had to move from his home of Spaldings to live with a relative in Mandeville in order to attend the practice sessions.
He said it was a much-improved effort from the choir this time around. "We were far better this year," he said. "We were more confident in the songs that we sang; we were more experienced and better prepared. It's a great feeling winning; it's like you have worked long and hard for something and it finally paid off."
The musical genius, choir director Adiel Thomas was on top of the world with his charges finally winning the competition in his third year at Manchester High.
"It's just awesome, we worked pretty hard," he said."In January we started vocal training and we build on that. So that helped in making the choir more mature and enable them to sound so professional."
Speaking on the difference of last year to this year, he said, "I just have more time with them, so they got better and better. It was one more year of vocal training, one more year of practising so that helped us a lot."
Juliet Colie, head of the Performing Arts Department, said they had to step up their voting, because in the early stages of the competition, it was the judges' admiration for the talent of the choir which kept them in the competition.
"We were scoring middle to lower early in the competition," Colie said. "So in the last part when we knew it was all voting, we went all out.
The school found creative ways of raising funds to vote such as keeping jeans day and tie day at the school.
They performed at the devotions at other schools in the parish and got contributions. As well as at church services.
"So many persons wanted to vote for us even some of the town schools that dropped out so that helped us a lot," Colie said.
Jasford Gabriel, principal of Manchester, was a happy man. "I am so elated with the school winning the competition," he said. "I am elated because it couldn't happen to a better set of student and tutor because last year they came close. For me it's a significant moment in the life of the school because it's at the core of what we do as a school in terms of the holistic development in the lives of our student."
Gabriel added, "What these students do it's more than just singing, it's more than entertainment. So many persons have told me that when these young people sing, it has brought tears to their eyes, it has caused them to reflect on their lives as Christians, so it's like they are ministering.
So they are truly gifted. I want to say thanks for the community that supported the school, we are truly grateful."