MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — At 8:30 a.m., most of us are still a few cups of coffee away from singing any happy tune.

But for Andover High School’s concert choir, it’s business as usual. That is, until Principal Becky Brodeur interrupts with a special announcement.

“WCCO-TV viewers voted you the Best High School Choir in Minnesota!” Brodeur said.

Happy news like this might have derailed the class for the rest of the hour, and rightly so. Yet after the briefest of celebrations, choir directors Shaun Hallund and Melanie Kjellberg get the group right back on task.

“We work hard, they work hard,” Kjellberg said.

But when the concert choir breaks into song, the goosebumps you feel are a sure sign that the music made by these 60 students is the result of something even greater than hard work.

(credit: CBS)

“Just being locked in and feeling like … you’re part of this collective body,” said senior Jack Slavic. “It makes you feel like you’re part of something that’s bigger than yourself.”

This culture of hard work and belonging has grown over time from seeds sewn by the director of choirs. Kjellberg has been with Andover High since it opened in 2002.

“It’s all about relationships, that’s where it starts,” Kjellberg said.

“Every choir director obviously has to teach you to be able to sing, but she teaches you so much more than that,” said junior Leilani Anderson. “She tries to like really be able to teach you about music and about life.”

Many of those life lessons are learned on the road at venues throughout the Midwest and abroad. And yes, the Andover Concert Choir has even played at Carnegie Hall.

“We have the best job in the world,” Kjellberg said.

Chris Shaffer

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