The boys in grades 3 through 8 board at the school during the academic year and not just because their singing schedule requires it. Life in community is the very thing that allows the boys to achieve the musical excellence for which they are known. It is also one of the most valuable experiences the Choir School has to offer.
The Third Grade, begun in the fall of 2006, follows a modified boarding plan with the boys arriving each week either Sunday evening or Monday morning as their families' schedules allow. All Third Grade boys go home for the weekend on Friday afternoon. The number of boys in the grade is kept to a very small number to allow for the care and attention needed as well as to reserve space for those boys who live at a greater distance from the school who will audition and join the choir in fourth or fifth grade.
Many parents' first reaction is, "But I can't send him away to school." We quickly assure them that if they were looking to 'send him away', we most likely wouldn't be interested in offering their son a place at the school! It is never easy for parents to let their child go, especially at this young age - which is why the school has gone to such great lengths to create a home away from home. Everything about the school is tailored to the needs of the boys.
On these pages, we will try to acquaint you with different aspects of our lives together as students, parents, siblings, faculty and staff of the Saint Thomas Choir School. We hope that we have the opportunity to welcome you to the school soon.
The Choir School has traditions at the holidays just as families do. Some have been done at the school longer than anyone remembers, and others have been brought to us by faculty and staff who share their traditions with the boys.
The school enjoys a holiday each year on Columbus Day, the only 'Monday holiday' observed by the school. Boys are released after evensong on Sunday and are free until Monday evening. New choristers are usually admitted to the choir at the evensong.
Recent graduates have traditionally joined the Choir School for a Thanksgiving meal on Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving). The choir sings the service on Thursday morning and then the boys are released until Saturday afternoon when they return to prepare for the first Sunday of Advent.
There are additional services and performances at this time of year: the Messiah, Lessons and Carols and the Blessing of the Creche. Sometimes there’s a radio or television appearance.
Christmas is quite a busy time around the school. Trimming the three trees has become a weekend activity. The trees in the Great Hall, the Library, and Dining Hall are all decorated by the boys at the school. Hot cocoa and cookies are served and Christmas carols are played (some of their own recordings and others). The cookies are baked by the nurses, parents and faculty and brought just for the occasion.
As a much needed break between the two Messiah performances, the boys go shopping with their advisory groups for their "Secret Santa” gift.
After the early service on Christmas Eve the, entire community gathers together for dinner at the school. The boys go upstairs for a rest before the midnight mass and the adults socialize until it is time to go to the church.
On Christmas morning the boys waken to find that Secret Santa has left a little gift for them. After singing the Christmas morning service, the boys go home to celebrate with their families and have a good rest.
Halloween does not go unnoticed. The school is transformed into a spooky lair with gloomy lighting and both faculty and boys alike dress up. Bizarre but exciting food in line with the boys culinary tastes is served in the buffet line. Staff also organize a scavenger hunt and the boys compete against one another following the various clues left out for them in order to win the Halloween prize.