When Langley High School closed last year, and the former Langley students became Brashear students, the merger was tough for both sides.
The schools organized activities to make the integration easier, but perhaps nothing worked quite like the ambitious project of a television crew that set up camp in the school to film a new reality series.
For the past week, USA Networks filmed part of a reality television show at Pittsburgh Brashear High School. The new series focuses on starting choirs, and filming wrapped on Sunday with a concert. .
The concert showcased a newly-formed show choir, featuring Brashear students and a talent they only recently discovered they had.
“There’s a lot of great kids here who are going to do a lot of great things in life,” said Gareth Malone, who is hosting the television show. “It was an honor for me to come in and be part of that.”
Brashear was chosen, along with several other locations nationwide, for the series. The production company approached the school district earlier this year.
“We were a little apprehensive at first,” said principal John Vater. “We didn’t want the craziness that comes along with a lot of these shows. But after seeing this, we’re just very impressed with the work [Gareth Malone] does, and the story he was able to bring out here.”
Vater said he and principals Angel Washington and Kimberly Safran, who until last year was the principal at Arlington Elementary, are enormously proud of the students and excited to see the show when it airs this spring.
It was a challenging week, and Vater said he, Washington and Safran came together to make the project a success for the school and its students.
DeVon Madden, a mediation specialist for Pittsburgh Public Schools, said simply, this opportunity is big for Brashear.
“The choir is about half Brashear kids and half Langley kids,” he said. “It provided so much hope to move forward and brought such a camaraderie for the whole school. This did tremendous things for the school.”
The high school offers classes that teach singing, piano and guitar, and a theater class was added this year. Brashear has a marching band, but does not have performing groups for chorus or theater.
Many students had never been on stage in such a capacity. After Sunday’s show Malone, who has directed similar projects in Great Britain, said he still felt the energy of being on stage.
“I got a real buzz from this one,” he said. “I’ve grown really fond of these people and this place in Pittsburgh, and I will really hold this one in my memory.”
The chorus is likely a one-time group for now, but Madden said he anticipates the school will look for more ways for students to be involved in music, inside and outside of school.
The name of the television show has not yet been released, but the series is set to air on USA Networks this spring.