Newark Boys Chorus School, only boys choir school in the nation, in danger of closing

Funding has plunged at the Newark Boys Chorus School since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Matt Trapani and Nick Meidanis

Jun 6, 2023, 1:10 AM

Updated 377 days ago


A Newark school known for setting students on the path to success is in danger of closing.
Funding has plunged at the Newark Boys Chorus School since the COVID-19 pandemic. It is said to be the only boy choir school in the nation. It may produce the next Broadway star or the next engineer – and music plays a vital role.
Not all of the students there were born as musicians, but the program has helped to bring out their passion.
“I didn't know that I could sing. I was more into dancing,” says seventh grader Daniel Gunwa.
The mission is to help kids -- often from single-parent homes -- see beyond Newark by taking them on a journey, one which could include singing at Carnegie Hall, the White House or Pearl Harbor.
"When I see the crowd at first before I get on stage, I get a little bit nervous,” says student Justin Perez. “But as soon as I get on stage, I’m like, ‘I have to do this.’”
But the school's future is increasingly unclear. Its tuition is free, but small classes and travel are costly. Donations have dropped. A pre-pandemic fundraiser could net $400,000 - enough to carry the school for a year. The most recent fundraiser brought in only $175,000.
“We really want the school to not only survive but to thrive,” says Mary Bentley-Lamar, vice president of the board of directors of the school.
Langston Good, 11, says he is thriving after just a few months here. His parents transferred him from a charter school seeking a stronger connection.
“He went from a kid, grumpy every morning getting out of the car and going to school, to a kid who hops out and says, ‘Goodbye, I love you,’” says father Gregory Good.
Sharrod Williams went from Newark Boys Chorus School to Newark’s Arts High School. He now has four Broadway shows on his resume.
"I went to Arts High School, and I was ahead of the students, in a sense, with music theory training and just the general maturity that it takes being a teenager in Newark,” Williams says.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for donations. A short-term goal is to raise $250,000. But the school also seeks to raise more than $1 million to keep the school going for the next generation.

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