School Choir Takes 1st Place, Receives “Superior” Rating

CLARK — The Saint John the Apostle School Choir, in Clark, recently received a “superior” rating and came in first place in the Music in the Parks Festival held in Bethlehem, Pa.

The choir competed against middle school and high school choirs from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. A superior rating is the highest honor given at an adjudication and this is the third consecutive year the Saint John Choir has received a “Superior” award at a Music in the Parks Festival.


The 62-voice choir is under the direction of Garwood resident Tom Pedas, a former music teacher in the Cranford and Linden Public Schools. The piano accompanist for the choir is Mel Freda of Cranford.

Serena Rodriguez, an eighth grader and one of the choir members at the school, received the “Outstanding over all soloist award” at the festival for her solo in “Shine On Me.” Rodriguez recently sang with the New Jersey Elementary All State Honor Choir and was also a member of the National Honor Choir in Oklahoma City in 2009.

This year the Saint John choir also participated in the first annual I Sing Choral Festival sponsored by the Archdiocese of Newark. Eight Catholic school choirs from New Jersey participated in this festival and the Saint John Choir received a “Superior” award at this adjudication. A unique aspect of this festival was that the judges worked with each choir after the adjudication. During this time one of the judges remarked about the Saint John Choir that “Working with this choir is like driving a Ferrari”.

Eighth grader Serena Rodriguez, music teacher Tom Pedas and Sister Donna Marie, O. P., principal of Saint John the Apostle School, show off the choir’s awards. (Photo courtesy of Saint John the Apostle School)

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