Childrens’ voices, a welcome hint of spring at the Idaho Statehouse

We Statehouse denizens sometimes forget just how beautiful the world is. So this week’s annual appearance of choirs from around Idaho offered a welcome lift as lawmakers press to adjourn by March 21.

Rushing from the media’s dark quarters in the basement to the Legislature’s 3rd floor chambers Wednesday just before noon, I halted on the second floor to hear the “Sunshine Singers,” 36 fourth- and fifth-graders from Twin Falls.

They presented more than sweet sound of young voices. In bumble-bee yellow T-shirts, they beamed on cue, turning up the corners of their mouths when choir director Marsha Dickinson pressed her index fingers to her blown-up cheeks and twisted.

“Don’t they sound good?”  Dickinson said after her group completed its performance, one of about 20 on Tuesday and Wednesday. “They’re so excited.”

Dickinson, who gets just an hour a week with the kids from Perrine and Harrison elementary schools, apologized for her hoarseness. “I don’t have a voice because I can’t help singing with them.”

Wednesday’s visit was the third Statehouse choir week for Dickinson. The last trip, in 2009, she brought about 100 kids, including third-graders. “The were out of control,” she confessed. “This smaller group does sound better and they behave much better on the bus.”

Please take a look at a brief sampling of their work, captured in my own crude way on a smart phone. I dare you not to feel just a little bit better.

The first segment shows a sparkling version of “Gloria,” with Dickinson singing and directing.

The second clip is a Western hoedown tune, complete with a Ye-Hah! arms-thrust-high finish.

The third bit is just the kids.

Remember when they were so uncomplicated and perfectly lovely?

Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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