Orono High Schools demonstrate excellence in all areas

Nichole Brenna

Orono Schools are located about 20 miles west of Minneapolis in Long Lake, MN. The Orono School District sits on one campus that includes Schumann Elementary (K-2), Orono Intermediate School (3-5), Orono Middle School (6-8) and Orono High School (9-12). Orono schools serve the communities of Independence, Long Lake, Maple Plain, Medina, Minnetonka Beach and Orono. Orono High School enrollment is 950 students with about 200 of those students enrolling in choir each year. The Orono School District was named a Minnesota District of Character twice, and was one of only 3 districts to be named a National District of Character in 2014. The Orono Schools music programs were recognized in 2018 and 2019 as one of the Best Communities for Music Education by the NAMM foundation.

The Orono High School Choir program, led by Nichole Brenna, features 4 curricular choirs: Spartan Choir (TB 9th grade choir), Treble Choir (SA 9th grade choir), Concert Choir (10-12 Mixed Choir), and Chamber Choir (10-12 Mixed Choir). Each choir performs at 4 concerts per year and Concert Choir and Chamber Choir also participate in Large Group Contest, Solo and Ensemble, and other community events like Graduation and Veteran’s Day.

Spartan Choir

Orono High School musicians are often involved in many other school activities. Many of our musicians are student-athletes, are involved in clubs at school, are actors in the school’s drama productions, participate in Speech and DECA, or are involved in school leadership. We also have an active Tri-M organization which provides a way for musicians to gather from both band and choir to find ways to serve the community and our student body through music. While it can be difficult to find time for it all, we are proud that our students are well-rounded and involved. This picture below of our Concert Choir was taken immediately after the State Soccer Tournament. We were not expecting our athletes to show up that evening, but they did.. Standing up there in their soccer uniform could not have been a more perfect representation of what it really means to be a student-athlete.

Concert Choir

We are fortunate enough to be able to perform our concerts in the beautiful Wayzata Community Church. We outgrew our auditorium space many years ago as the choirs began to grow in numbers. Our students love performing in this large, resonant space and we are so thankful to the Wayzata Community Church staff for welcoming us each concert season. We are also lucky to have Mark Hemingway, Director of Worship and Music at Trinity Lutheran Church, as a member of our music department. Mark has played a large role in the development of the choirs at Orono High School. Not only has he accompanied our choirs for many years but he has helped many of our young TB voices grow through the years through his encouragement and leadership in sectionals and rehearsal.

Chamber Choir

The Orono Middle School Choirs are led by Ms. Shannon McCauley Briggs. These grade level choirs attract large numbers of students in grades 5, 6, 7 and 8. Students begin their choir years in the Intermediate School in 5th grade choir and then move to the Middle School for grades 6-8, remaining grade level, mixed choirs for all grades. Ms. McCauley Briggs also leads an auditioned, extracurricular choir that gives students an extension opportunity to learn more challenging music and participate in activities like singing the National Anthem at the Timberwolves Games.

Spartan Singers at Timber Wolves game

The Orono High School Chamber Choir was selected to perform at Orchestra Hall as part of the Minnesota Choral Arts Finale in 2017. Concert Choir and Chamber Choir have also been invited to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City twice. First with DCINY in 2015 performing Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem, and again with Choirs of America in 2019 with Dr. Eugene Rogers, Stacey Gibbs, and Elaine Hagenberg.

Chamber Choir at Orchestra Hall

We sincerely thank ACDA for recognizing Orono Choirs as a Star Program and for the work you do as an organization to keep choral music in the lives of our students!