Hello there. I’m Tess Szymanczyk Louzan. I’ve been a singer for South Shore Children’s Chorus since I was 11 years old. You might have seen me in many of the concerts. I was the blond girl with glasses in the 3rd or 4th row up allllllll the way to the right. I’m a recent highschool graduate which means I sadly graduated SSCC this year. I have had some truly amazing times in SSCC and I am forever grateful for the students and teachers who have been with me along my journey through this amazing organization.

I knew Ms. Oberoi when I was ten. She was my third voice teacher and definitely my favorite. Her happiness and excitement was infectious, she was a wonderful teacher who always tried to see where her students were struggling and help them as best she could. When I turned 11, Ms. Oberoi invited me to join a new group she was starting, ‘South Shore Children's Chorus.’ Without a second thought I said yes. I remember when I first joined the groups were small. It was divided as the little kids and the big kids. There were only a few kids in each group but even then Ms. Oberoi brought that happiness and excitement to her teaching quickly into the group.

I was in the younger group and it was a truly terrific group. Even back then there was a strong air of a community. The kids were kind and welcoming. They took Ms. Oberoi's enthusiasm to learn and doubled it. I remember excitedly rushing to get my homework done before going to choir. Running through the house grabbing my water bottle and music before dashing to the car. Even nights when I wasn’t feeling so energetic entering the choir I’d leave happy and energized. Even then there was a strong sense of community and caring. I have a memory that always stuck with me that showed the kindness in that choir. One night my parents were late to picking me up. I was sitting in the hallway watching the hands move along the clock while Ms. Oberoi was getting the classroom ready for the older kids group. At some point a young woman walked into the hallway and sat down next to me. She was one of the older kids. It was quiet for a moment but then she introduced herself and we began to talk. I don’t remember what words we spoke but I remember her warm smile and us laughing. She could have easily gotten on her phone and ignored me but she talked to me. That was the people that I found in South Shore Children’s Chorus. At first it was a little community, something small and precious but it was truly wonderful.

Over the years the community grew. The groups changed. The organization expanded and steadily became more sure of itself. More people arrived, more staff was hired. But the energy and warmth never dwindled, it actually seemed to keep increasing. There were times I couldn’t even keep up with it but I was never overwhelmed. The staff is always kind. They have that same spark and love of this organization that Ms. Oberoi has. I’ve stayed in contact with two of them who have truly made an impact on me and the way I sing. They introduced me to different vocal warm ups that I still use to this day. They kept the classes alive as we learned new music, new languages, cultures. As South Shore Children’s Chorus grew it became more than learning about music. It became learning about cultures, peoples, beliefs, ourselves. Sometimes this place was more educational than a classroom. More exciting than a high school football game. And its concerts more rewarding than A+ on a test.

Thinking of the memories of this place I’m always taken aback by the impact the kinds of people I met had on me. I was one of the older little kids so I was always a sort of leader to the younger kids. I remember when it was time for me to move to the oldest ensemble, on the last practice saying goodbye to the other kids in the middle ensemble. They were so sad to see me go but so happy for me. It was the strangest but best bittersweet feeling. Then I had to leave this whole organization this year. I saw kids I’ve known since this organization started move up into the oldest group and I could not have been more proud of them. Saying goodbye to them a final time was the hardest part of this year. I got hugs from so many of them and it surprised me. I was rather quiet, or at least I thought I was rather quiet. Most of my spare time was on my phone looking over my writing but so many kids hugged me. Saying I inspired them or just that they would miss me when in truth it was I who was inspired by them. There were times of chaos of course times of struggle just like there are in anything but those times were outnumbered by the good times. I never regretted joining SSCC. I have made so many connections here with both students and teachers. I’ve learned, experienced, and grown in so many ways. And being here from the start, watching it grow from this little community to this organization that now expands far more than I think anyone ever imagined has been a true honor to see and I have the most respect and admiration for the people who have created it.