Students at Kilough Elementary School in Dawson County received a very unique honor on Tuesday night, taking the field at Truist Park in Atlanta to sing the national anthem and officially open the Braves vs. Red Sox Major League Baseball game.
According to Kilough Elementary School Principal Teresa Conowal, the school’s journey to Truist Park began more than a year ago when school music specialist Jessie Tomes submitted an application for the Kilough Chorus to sing at a game.
“Mr. Tomes submitted an application and we were chosen,” Conowal said.
The students were originally scheduled to sing for the Memorial Day game in 2020. But then COVID-19 hit, and all events including MLB baseball games shut down. According to Tomes, he and the chorus were invited to reschedule for this year, but they were unsure what to expect.
“We only found out in March that we were going to be able to perform,” Tomes said. “Truist Park opened to limited capacity in April and only recently to full capacity.”
Tomes said that the representative had been telling him all week leading up to the performance that this game was expected to draw a large crowd since the Red Sox don’t often visit Atlanta, but they didn’t know just how many people would be there until they arrived at the stadium, which was filled to 89% capacity with 36,638 people.
Upon arrival at the stadium on Tuesday, the students were taken to a staging area to warm up before being ushered through the left field gate onto center field directly behind second base.
“It was fun and exciting but also a little nerve-wracking,” Tomes said. “It is amazing how quiet a whole stadium can get in an instant.”
The chorus started singing, and according to Tomes, the performance was unlike anything he’s ever experienced.
“During the part of the anthem, ‘the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,’ large fireworks went off — that caused us all to jump a little,” Tomes said. “When the chorus hit the last line of the anthem, the entire crowd roared.”
Throughout the rest of the game, Tomes said that people kept coming up to the Kilough students, recognizing them by their chorus shirts and telling them they did a great job in their performance.
“The students were grinning ear to ear,” Tomes said. “It was one of those moments that I believe they will remember for the rest of their lives.”
Conowal, who attended the game to support her students, said that the performance wouldn’t have been made possible without Tomes’ initiative and the support of Kilough Elementary School families.
“Mr. Tomes is truly a gem — he is constantly looking for ways to showcase the amazing dedication of our students, and this was an exciting and unforgettable example,” Conowal said. “We are so proud of our students and exceedingly grateful to our wonderful KES families. Our strong partnership made this positive experience possible.”