GALESVILLE, Wis. - Many schools have music programs, but at Gale-Ettrick Trempealeau High School, the choir program is something special.
The school has fewer than 400 students, but over 100 choose to sing in one of three choirs, and many say that number is so high because of the man behind the music, choir director Ryan Stuempgues.
"It's pretty much like a family,” senior Malorie Wall said. “We all have our different parts, but we come together as one."
There's a reason why about one-third of the students at Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau High School choose to take choir.
"It’s fun and he makes it fun,” senior Courntey Rosecke said. “I don't think it'd be as popular if we didn't have an awesome teacher like Mr. Stuempges."
"Yeah, it's a lot of him,” senior Maddison Correa said.
Ryan Stuempges fell in love with teaching over a decade ago.
"I saw the excitement I first had when I first heard an in-tune chord or dove into lyrics. That's the fun part, to see these kids react the same way I did when I was younger,” he said.
"He's a passionate guy,” senior Ethan Giles said. “His main goal is creating an authentic music experience for the kids. He wants us to get that feeling, the chills, almost."
In his eleventh year of teaching at G-E-T, Stuempges knows that music carries many lessons.
"When you do music stuff, there's a lot of failing, then there's a lot of getting back up,” he said.
The lessons are learned both on and off the stage.
"He's there for us if we need to talk about anything, school related or not,” Rosecke said.
"He is very welcoming and good at making it feel like you can get anywhere you want to,” Correa said.
Stuempges said it's not only his responsibility as a teacher to help students grow musically, but also to get them in tune with who they want to be after high school.
"It's our responsibility as teachers to use our subject matter to turn them into productive citizens,” he said. “I think I’m super lucky because I get to use music as a tool to teach them that."
The G-E-T choirs will perform on Jan. 14. Tickets are on sale for $10.
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