53rd annual pops concert brings alumni back for one more chance onstage

The Theodore Roosevelt High School Choir will finally host its alumni celebration after three years of postponement because of the pandemic at the 53rd annual POPs concert.

On May 12, all three curricular choirs, the extracurricular choir ACEs, the jazz band and over 100 alumni will join together on stage for the yearly Roosevelt performance, directed by vocal and pop music teacher Corey Fowler. 

The alumni celebration was originally scheduled to take place at the 50th anniversary in 2020, but the concert was canceled because of Covid. In 2021, they performed the POPs program outside. 

POPs made its return back to the school auditorium last year, but Fowler felt they still needed more precautionary time before inviting alumni to the performance. Alumni were invited via social media, and the announcement did its job: Over 140 graduates responded to the call. 

Corey Fowler

The POPs concert gives students the opportunity to perform popular songs of their choice, which is different from the more traditional music they perform at competitions.

“All the choir students work really hard throughout the whole year — performing really hard repertoire and learning sight reading and all kinds of skills,” Fowler said. “It’s really nice to then relax a bit and still really work hard to perform the music well, but do music that they can connect with personally and add in some more performance aspects that are different than our other concerts.”

Fowler has been directing the Roosevelt choirs since 2012. He and his predecessor, Donna Crews, who directed for 21 years, joined forces this year to organize the alumni celebration.

In 1970, the first POPs concert took place in the gymnasium of Roosevelt High School. According to a program from the 25th concert, the first POPs brought in a crowd of 400-500 people, all seated at tables set up around a five-foot high stage to create a “dinner theater atmosphere.” Now, the concert is performed in a traditional auditorium, but the goal of POPs remains the same: to give students a chance to take the reins of the choir.

“It really allows the students to take some major responsibility for pulling off a show,” Crews said. “Once the concert starts, it’s pretty much the kids doing it. I just think it really gives them a lot of responsibility and organizational skills.”

Megan Snyder, an alumna from the class of 1974, now residing in Akron, will be taking part in the alumni concert. She said performing in POPs and being in the Roosevelt choir and band added a lot of value to her high school education.

“I know that the kids there are so talented … so I know it’ll be amazingly good,” Snyder said. “I’m not gonna sing as loud as I used to because I’m not as good as I used to be, but I still think it will be fun.”

This year’s concert is entitled “One More Chance,” which comes from one of the songs in the program, “I Want U Back” by The Jackson Five. The structure of POPs remains the same as previous years, but with the alumni coming back to perform, they will sing two of their own songs and will join the rest of the students to sing the last song of the night.

“There are so many things you could tell a current high school student, like ‘You’re gonna miss this,’ or ‘really cherish these things that you’re doing right now,’” Fowler said. “They might listen to you … but when they’re 10, 15, 20 years out, they’re [saying], ‘Oh, that’s what he meant. That was such a unique time that we could do all these different things, and at that point it was just normal.’”

Tickets for the 53rd POPs concert on May 12 are on sale, $12 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. The concert begins at 7 p.m. in the Richard Roberts Auditorium.

Kelsey Paulus
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