PITTSBURG — Family can be found within the most unusual places.
For Pittsburg High School students, they found it in their vocal music class.
“This year is really emotional, they have really come together in the program and to each other,” Vocal Music Instructor Susan Laushman said.

Her students agreed.

PHS senior Amanda Bourbina started in fifth grade with Virginia Darling in Youth Chorale, where she “fell in love with singing.”
“I continued through middle school and had many amazing opportunities,” Bourbina said adding when she entered high school and met Laushman, her experience and opportunities continued to blossom.

These opportunities included All State Vocal Music, Kansas Choral Directors Association, made Kansas Music Educators Association and several other competitions. Students also had the opportunity to work closely with instrumental music classes and theatre.
“These past four years have been absolutely amazing, we’ve been through the ups and downs, and lefts and rights as well, but we also had our successes,” Bourbina said.  
“Encore definitely has been my family, I know it’s cliche to say but there’s nothing more true.”

For Gabriel Abarca, he had a “love-hate” relationship with music. When he auditioned for Encore he knew at that moment he wanted to be in choir.
“She was so kind and helps you along the way,” he said.

PHS senior Cassidy Bayliss agreed.
“Laushman has high energy and is confident in what she does,” Bayliss said chiming in.

Vocal music has inspired Abarca so much that he plans to study psychology and music to become a music therapist.
“I wanted to help people with their problems and I found out you could do that with music,” he said. “Music has helped me through a lot of things and it has helped me express myself, why not help people with music, it felt like the right thing to do.”

Neo Holmes’ friend Gabe, encouraged him to join vocal music two years ago.
“This is the only class where I can walk in and say something and say something super dumb and have at least one person laugh — it’s usually Dominic,” Neo Holmes said jokingly with his classmates.

Bourbina agreed.
“There’s definitely a different level of humor that is appreciated in this room,” she said.

During her sophomore year Jasmyn Antoni battled depression.
“I was going through some really hard personal things,” Antoni said. “But I knew every time I walked into Encore that I was going to be greeted by at least one person that actually cared about my feelings.”

The students said they will remember the songs “We Rise Again,” “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and they collectively said they will “for sure” remember their senior song, “Rivers and Roads,” written by the Head and the Heart, and arranged by their classmate Andrew Riachi. Aiden Harries will accompany with the guitar — both seniors at the high school.
“I think what makes ours even more special is that a fellow student has arranged it and we have another fellow student playing guitar for us,” Bourbina said.

The first line to their senior song is “a year from now we will all be gone,” they said adding the song is certain to bring tears — the tears have already began to fall according to Bourbina.

Want to go?
The PHS Vocal Music Spring Concert and senior recognition will be at 7:30 p.m. on May 8, at McCray Hall at Pittsburg State University. Vocal music students in Girls Glee, Encore and soloists will perform that evening, directed by Laushman.

Vocal music personnel
# Senior
+ District Honor Choir
% State Treble Choir
@ State Mixed Choir
L  Lettered in Vocal Music

Gabe Abarca#+            
Kiersten Deierling        
Catrina McQueen
Hannah Abarca+            
Tatum Devena#+        
Ethan Miller
Katelyn Abarca+@            
Kylee Eidson+%L        
Grace Oertle-Puckett+%L
Gabe Anderson+L            
Aunyx Estes        
Joshua Ortolani+
Emma Annan-Noonoo+@L    
Mona Estes+%        
Abigail Painter
Jasmyn Antoni#+%L        
Ayla Ford            
Katie Painter#+
Julian Archuleta#+@L        
Alyssa Gibbs        
River Peery
Cassidy Bayliss#            
Mia Giordano+%        
Kole Perez+
Kamryn Bennett            
Audrey Goode        
Hailey Peristy
Keenan Bishop#+            
Aidan Harries#+@        
Tristin Perrin+
Madelaine Bishop+        
Jazmin Havens#        
Drake Plain
Sapphire Blakemore+%L    
Dennis Heikes+        
Hannah Reeves
Logan Bockover+            
Brooklyn Hellwig#        
Andrew Riachi#
Amanda Bourbina#+%        
Addyson Hill        
Yareli Rojo
Reece Bressler            
Neo Holmes#+        
Rachel Ruiz#+
Bryson Brown            
Natalie Horner        
Christopher Saman
Elisabeth Brown#            
Xavier Huffman+        
Cheyenne Schirk
Franchesca Brownhanney+L    
Taylor Hurt            
Adrenne Sealey
Jenna Broyles            
Daniel Jackson+        
Kaitlyn Sharbutt+
Kassandra Burns            
Kamryn Kelley#+        
McKenna Shaw+%L
Addyson Campbell+%L        
Kyra Ketcham#+@        
Madelin Shawn+
Hannah Casper#+    %        
Lexi Ketcham        
Rebekah Sheward+
Sophie Casper            
Lance King            
Sarah Stebbins
Lilly Cawyer                
Katherine Kirby+        
Dominic Stefanoni#+
Kaitlyn Chambers            
Joy Lee            
Grace Terry#+%L
Angel-Lea Childers        
Bailey Manning#        
Kate Thueson+
Tori Coonrod            
Trista Manning        
Cooper Turnbull+
Corin Cooper+            
Ethan McConnell+@L    
Carter Uttley#+
Griffin Cooper+            
Bo McDowell        
Destiny Watson
Dallas Cox                
Kaya McFall        
Mallory Womeldorff
Nallely Cruz-Gonzalez        
Austin McKechnie+