National Anthem Singers Strike A Chord


Molly Mullis

National Anthem Singers: Front Row: Lauren Johnson (10), Laney Robison (11), Liz Sleper (9), Maggie Millenkamp (11), Sheeley McMahon (12); Second Row: Grace Reth (12), Mikaila Neuzil (12), Kaylee Osterhaus (12), Becca Farmer (12); Back Row: Regan Recker (12), Grace Millenkamp (11), Anna Werner (12), Addie Reetz (12).

The Iowa High School Music Association (IHSMA) chose four solos and four ensembles from West Delaware to sing the national anthem at Iowa high school state athletic events this year. 

Twenty-two West Delaware singing groups, including solos and ensembles, submitted recordings to the IHSMA. Eight of those 22 were selected to fill 28 available spots. 

Duane Philgreen, choral director, has submitted student national anthem recordings since the tradition began in 2004. 

“It’s a great honor,” Philgreen said. “Being selected to be a national anthem singer gives the singers an opportunity to be recognized by the Manchester community, as well as the sports community. Sports are a huge part of our community, and singing at these state events draws attention to our singers and our music program.”

Traveling to these state events and performing in front of a live audience is one of the few music traditions that has remained through this past year because many music events have been canceled, postponed or restricted. 

However, performing looks a little different amidst the pandemic. The director of IHSMA determined that masks would be required for national anthem singers at state events.

While traveling to state events, national anthem singers also enjoy spending the day with the other singers, parents, and Philgreen.

Sheeley McMahon (12) has submitted recordings since her freshman year with eight state national anthem performances.

“It’s a lot of fun to go sing and then to spend the day or car ride with your friends,” McMahon said.

“My favorite memory from visiting Des Moines to sing is when I went to Cheesecake Factory my sophomore year,” McMahon said. “Mr. Philgreen got this big slice of cheesecake, and he said, “Don’t tell Michelle.” I took a photo of him with the huge cheesecake and the biggest smile on his face.”