Introducing Ms. McKenna

It is with great excitement that I can finally announce the choir director for the 2018-2019 school year here at Akins HS, Ms. Mary McKenna. I know that she will do a fantastic job and is ready to jump in with both feet.

A note from Ms. McKenna:

Dear Students, Parents, and Staff,
          My name is Mary McKenna, and I am very excited to be joining you at Akins next year.  I am originally from Georgetown, Texas, but have spent the last seven years living in Austin attending the University of Texas, gaining experience in schools, and teaching private piano and voice lessons.  At UT, I received a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and a Master’s in Music and Human Learning with an emphasis on piano and singing.  Throughout college, I also enjoyed being a member of the Big Flags section in the Longhorn Band.  For the past three years, I have been teaching elementary school music in Round Rock ISD.
          In addition to teaching, I love spending time with my family and going on adventures. Some of my favorites include sightseeing, relaxing at the beach, hiking, snow skiing, and watching Broadway musicals.  I also love cycling with my Texas 4000 teammates and doing various volunteer work in the Austin area.
         I don't really think you can ever stop making new friends or learning about as many new things as possible. I do believe that something wonderful is always about to happen, smiling is contagious, and love really is all you need. Especially love in the form of hugs—I’m a huge fan of hugs!
          Music has brought me more joy than I can possibly explain.  As my awesome music teachers have done for me, I hope to impact my students by expressing the delight of creating and sharing the beauty of music with others. I plan to equip my students with the skills necessary to read and understand high-quality music literature and to be able to express intelligent opinions about music in the real world.
          Striving for musical excellence expands students’ understanding of the value of dedication and motivates them toward the highest level of excellence in all other areas of education.  More importantly, it contributes to overall happiness and fulfillment both inside and outside of school.  It is my belief that all music students should be prepared to successfully participate in music making throughout their adult lives.  People who can make quality music and discuss music intelligently with others are valued members of the community. 
          As a music teacher, I believe that it is my responsibility to teach healthy, sustainable vocal and instrumental techniques to every student.  I will carefully choose varied repertoire in order to expose my students to the vast world of music and prepare them to successfully enter the world of musicianship. Perhaps most importantly, I hope to encourage my students to dream big, be kind, believe in themselves, and work hard as they pursue their music studies and whatever else they are passionate about.
         If there is ever anything I can do to help you, please let me know.  I look forward to meeting and getting to know each and every one of you! 
incerely,
Mary McKenna

Slideshow

Good morning, all!

Thank you for a wonderful Spring Choir and Piano Picnic yesterday! I loved seeing everyone happy, enjoying the (very warm!) outdoors, and playing volleyball/swinging/etc. Sorry again about the issues with the projector - sometimes the best laid plans don't work out. I've embedded it below in case you'd like to watch it.

Seniors, I'll see you at graduation! Everyone else, I'll see you on your finals day. Good luck on the rest of your finals, and everyone have a great summer!

Choir/Piano Picnic, Graduation, and Our Last Concert for 2017-2018

Good afternoon!

It's almost the end of the year, but we still have a ton of things to accomplish! Below I've outlined everything you need to know from now until 5/31 (Graduation day!)

  • Monday, 5/21: After-school rehearsal for 2nd/6th periods for Someone to Watch Over Me and I Have Had Singing. Mandatory for all 2nd/6th period students, casual dress. 4:30-6:00 PM. Parent pick up no later than 6:15 PM, please.
  • Tuesday, 5/22: All students stay after school for their joint Spring Concert. The concert starts at 7:00 PM, and will last a little longer than usual since it's a joint concert and we also honor our seniors on this evening. Attendance is mandatory for all choir students in 1st, 2nd, and 6th-period classes. Tuxes/gowns, please bring your own sack dinner. Students may not leave campus after school. We've had a lot of issues with incorrect shoes at performances lately. Please make sure your student has the right footwear for their uniform! Attendance will be taken, before, during, and after the concert as usual. Students/parents may not leave once the choir is done, we will all stay and support our band colleagues.
  • Thursday, 5/24: 5th/6th Period exams during the school day. Please bring all uniforms, binders, and choir 'stuff' to school so we can inventory it and make sure everything is accounted for. School releases at 1:10 PM. Our spring picnic is this day, and we will begin setup at 5 PM. I could use 5-10 students to help with setup and a few parents. We are also in need of some grills to cook the hotdogs and hamburgers on, and a parent or two to volunteer to cook them. If you have one you would be willing to loan, or are interested in grilling, please let me know! The picnic starts at 6 PM, and students need to be picked up by 8 PM (we have to completely vacate the park before dark, as it is illegal to be there once the sun goes down). Attendance at this event is optional, you just need to sign up at this link, and bring whatever you signed up for. Casual dress. We will be watching the slideshow at this event as well, so if you or your student have any pictures you'd like me to include, please let me know by emailing me at catherine.ballard@austinisd.org!
  • Friday, 5/25: 1st/2nd Period exams during the school day. School releases at 1:10 PM. Please bring all uniforms, binders, and choir 'stuff' to school so we can inventory it and make sure everything is accounted for. After school, students going to TSSEC will be rehearsing with their accompanist between 1:20 PM and 2:00 PM. Students need to bring the $40 for the accompanist on this date.
  • Monday, 5/28: State TSSEC. Skyler Melder and Aleisha Smith are the only two students participating in this event. The event is on UT's campus. I will drive the students there, but parents will need to pick them up. Both students will need to fill out this form so I can drive them, and I'll need your addresses so I can pick you up. Their performance times are:
  • Tuesday, 5/29: 7th/8th-period exams. School releases at 1:10 PM.
  • Wednesday, 5/30: 3rd/4th-period exams. School releases at 1:10 PM. Last day of school!
  • Thursday, 5/31: Graduation day for all seniors. Since we sing at graduation, we will need to rehearse. All 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 6th-period choir members (except for seniors) need to be at school at 3:30 to start rehearsal. Between 2:30 and 7:00 PM, we will rehearse, eat, load buses, travel to the Frank Erwin Center, etc. Please be flexible - I'm still waiting on a few specifics to be able to tell you concrete times. The only real times I know right now are that the buses for graduation will be leaving at 4, and that graduation will start at 7. I expect graduation to be over around 8:15-8:30, and for us to be back at Akins around 9:00 PM. Please be ready to pick your students up no later than 9:15 PM.
  • SUMMER! Thank you so much for everything that students, parents, guardians, etc. have done for me and the choir this year and in years past. I will sincerely miss every single one of my students and look forward to seeing where everyone goes in the future!