Markel Brooks, choir teacher at Shannon High School
By Dillon Mullan
Every April, the finest voices at Shannon High School step into an audition to deliver their best song. The 35 or so students talented enough to make the school’s honors choir spend the school year practicing nearly everyday between concerts.
“The try out is not as stressful as it sounds,” Brooks said. “You come in and sing your song.”
Those who didn’t make the cut used to be out of luck. Then in the spring of 2015, Brooks started a gospel choir to incorporate every student who wants to sing. Under his direction, Shannon’s inclusive group of singers represent the school during performances around holidays, in the community’s churches, and finally, at graduation.
“At Shannon we try to teach each student in every class that we are a family and everybody works together. The choirs are about coming together and doing what we love,” Brooks said. “There’s not too many schools that have a gospel choir, so for us to get out and represent Shannon, it speaks volumes on us as a school and the type of community we’re building.”
Brooks graduated from Shannon in 2012 and was in the honors choir all four years before receiving a degree in music education from Itawamba Community College. Even when he is saying ‘um’ between thoughts, his voice cycles through a few different musical tones. For a lost voice, he recommends a combination of grapefruit juice and 7-up.
When he’s not singing, Brooks mentors students with disciplinary issues. As a younger voice who was recently in the same classrooms, Brooks can connect with current students on a different level than other teachers.
“I just try being myself and not more than what I should be. I think it helps a lot to stay level instead of trying to hard to be somebody the student expects you to be. The relationship is more real that way,” Brooks said. “It always depends on the kid, but everyday I do my best to reach at least one kid. If I can reach out to one kid and make a positive connection with him or her, that’s a good day.”