Cowboys, greasers and “love bugs” swarmed Mountain View High on Monday, interrupting classes to give students a treat. But guess again if you think it’s for Halloween.
Welcome to the choir’s annual tradition of Singing Valentines.
Despite modifications, the largely beloved ritual occurred in person for the first time in two years; COVID-19 forced a departure from the usual practice of forcing begrudging, pink cheeked friends into being serenaded in front of their classes.
Love songs echoed through campus once again — maybe even a little more than usual since the valentines were sung outside, and district protocols require teachers to keep all windows open.
But to the Madrigals — Mountain View’s most advanced choir that puts on the Singing Valentines — this is more than a breezy way to take up class time. It’s an exercise in, well, exercise.
“We basically ran around the entire school,” senior Valerie MacIsaac said. “I checked my watch and it said 11 miles. El-e-ven miles.”
Senior Maya Itty reported a similar mileage and said the choir sold over 1,000 Singing Valentines total, although she noted that songs were sung to the whole class this year, so the number of cards delivered wasn’t proportional to the number of times that groups sang.
“But it’s easy to keep your energy up because the people in the classes are so excited,” Itty said. “Even in seventh period when we had already done like 300 valentines, it was still so fun.”
In a futile attempt to mitigate excessive physical exertion, Itty said Choir Director Jill Denny split the school into three zones: left, right and 700 wing.
Alas, the Madrigals’ day essentially consisted of running, walking, singing, dancing and smiling non-stop, or as MacIsaac described it: “song after song after song after song.” Even during passing periods and breaks, MacIsaac said they were running back to the choir room to get their next batch of cards or serenading fellow Madrigals who received valentines.
Although their efforts are evidently exhausting, MacIsaac said the efforts are equally rewarding for the singers.
“You just get to feel like you’re doing something positive for other people,” MacIsaac said. “It’s nice to be recognized and it’s also nice to recognize others and be a part of just saying, ‘I love you, thank you for being whoever you are,’ to that person.”
Itty echoed MacIsaac’s sentiment, and said she enjoyed Singing Valentines even before she was a Madrigal.
“It’s so awesome to be spreading music and having something fun around the school because I think that that’s been missing for a while,” Itty said. “Even though we couldn’t do it exactly the normal way we normally do Singing Valentines, it was still so fun to see everyone and sing to everyone.”
Itty and MacIsaac were in the cowboys group, which sang its intro song (“Take Me Home, Country Roads”), two choir concert songs (“Smile” and “Heartbeat”) and three of their choosing (“Rhythm of Love,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “Love On Top”). Itty arranged their intro song, but the rest they were able to find online.
Throughout the month-long process, Madrigals spent every choir class period, along with many outside of school rehearsals selecting, arranging, choreographing and testing songs for this one day.
“I think that a lot of people don’t realize how much time you put into it,” senior Erin Mullenex said. “We work really hard for them and it definitely pays off. I think I wouldn’t say people take it for granted, but I think people don’t realize how much it takes to get there with it all.”
Mullenex said the choir department took part in that intensive preparation for their deliveries, including mapping out a schedule for delivery, recording virtual valentines, scanning all cards for inappropriate messages and sorting them into the designated classes. Essentially, the Valentine’s Day equivalent of Santa’s workshop.
Choir director Denny created and annually organizes Singing Valentines as a fundraiser for those who cannot afford to go on tour with choir, Mullenex said. Denny has been teaching choir at Mountain View for over 35 years and started Singing Valentines at least 15 years ago, if not more, Mullenex said.
“It’s deep within the Jill Denny roots; she has those staple things that she does,” Mullenex said. “It’s something special that not many others get the chance to do.”