By DEBORAH GERTZ HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
PITTSFIELD, Ill. -- Two Pittsfield High School students will spend a day off of school sharing their musical talent with statewide educators.
Allie Hoover and Mitchell Barton will sing the national anthem during Friday's opening ceremonies for the 80th Joint Annual Conference of the Illinois Association of School Boards, the Illinois Association of School Administrators and the Illinois Association of School Business Officials.
"I'm really looking forward to it," said Barton, a senior active in chorus, swing choir and school musicals.
Both students are part of an anthem group at PHS, which performs at home basketball games and other events. This performance will be a duo, not a group, but "I think it'll be fine," Barton said. "We've been practicing. We'll be fine together."
Hoover said both know their parts of a song which can pose some challenges to vocalists.
"We have parts our chorus teacher made for us. It's easier for us to sing in our range," said Hoover, a sophomore. "I'm excited. I think it will be good for us for the future, for singing at the games. I think we'll learn a lot from it."
More than 2,200 people -- including Superintendent Paula Hawley and the Pikeland School Board -- are expected to hear the students perform.
That will be a small crowd for Barton, who was part of the National FFA Chorus which performed at that group's convention this year, but will be the largest audience for Hoover.
"I'm kind of nervous," she said, but she'll focus on the music. "Usually Mitchell and I look at each other so we keep the beat and focus. If you look out at the crowd, it's hard to focus part of the time."
Hoover, a sophomore, is the daughter of Cindy and Phillip Hoover of Pittsfield. Barton, a senior, is the son of Debbie and David Barton of Nebo.
Both fathers serve on the school board, and David Barton also is a member of the IASB Board of Directors.
David Barton offered to have Allie and Mitchell sing, and "they accepted," Mitchell Barton said.
"It's a pretty big deal, a nice honor," Hawley said.
The students leave for Chicago on Thursday for sound checks ahead of the performance, then will spend the rest of the weekend in the city.
"I'm going to do some shopping," Hoover said. "It's my first time in Chicago. I'm excited for that."
The conference, the largest state education conference in the nation, expects to draw more than 10,000 attendees, guests and exhibitors. It offers professional development opportunities for board members, superintendents, business officials, board and district secretaries and other school administrators.
Barton plans to participate in chorus in college, but he hopes to major in forensic accounting, and he welcomes this opportunity.
"I'm really liking this," he said. "It will look really good on scholarships."