Shelton’s Booth Hill Elementary School recently completed an ambitious feat, recording the voices of the entire student body and faculty onto a professionally produced holiday CD, netting the school a profit of about $2,000.
School Principal Sandra Mahony said the school PTA plans to use the money to purchase additional microphones, projectors and sound systems to bolster the school’s multimedia resources.
“It was a total school effort,” Mahony said. “A project like this can’t be done by one person. It has to be the cooperative effort of everyone in the school.”
The project began when Mahony received a letter from Shirra Productions, owned by Michael Shirra of Stratford. After Mahoney decided that recording a CD seemed worthwhile, she selected music teacher Heidi Lazdauskas to begin preparations.
In her music classes, Lazdauskas taught the songs planned for the CD to students ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade. The students practiced intensively for two weeks, beginning in mid-October.
On Nov. 3, Shirra set up his 24-track digital recording equipment in the school auditorium. Students recorded their songs throughout the day.
The faculty and students in kindergarten through fourth grade sang one song per grade. Because the fifth and sixth graders also had chorus rehearsals, they were able to prepare three songs each. The CD includes such holiday songs as “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “Holly Jolly Christmas” as well as lesser-known tunes such as a Burgundian French carol. The faculty added a rendition of “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” that Lazdauskas said was very good.
Lazdauskas said the students enjoyed themselves.
“It was a fun project to do, a nice memory for the students,” Lazdauskas said.
Shirra’s program offers free service for groups with 200 or more participants. Shirra only accepts payment for CDs that have already been sold through pre-registration. As a result, his program is well-suited for parochial schools and urban schools with traditionally tight budgets, he said.
The Booth Hill School is not the only place Shirra has helped a school produce a CD. He came up with the idea of making CDs to raise funds when his daughter’s school suffered flood damage. What started out as a way to “make a CD and raise a couple bucks,” has since expanded. Shirra has also worked with Oakville’s Polk Elementary School, as well as St. Raphael’s School and St. Ann’s School, both in Bridgeport. He also is planning on branching out to schools in Oxford and Westport in the near future.