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Girls Choral Academy to honor Judge Sara Smolenski


Judge Sara Smolenski is the first to admit that she’s not a singer on a par with several of her sisters, but all nine Smolenski sisters sang — often and loudly. Judge Smolenski comments, “Part of my love for singing with my sisters is blending with them and being part of something bigger than myself. It’s teamwork — you can sound good when you have a contribution to make.”

At 5:30 p.m. Nov. 4, at the Goei Center, The Girls Choral Academy (GCA) will honor the judge. (For tickets, call 616-361-6111.)

Judge Smolenski earned a J.D. from Thomas M. Cooley Law School. She was elected to the bench in 1990 and appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court as Chief Judge, 63rd District Court, in 1996.

She spends countless hours outside of the courtroom as a legal advocate, role model for women and girls, and contributor/activist for several non-profit groups, including the GCA.

Founded in 1997, the GCA works to “Give Girls a Voice” by providing vocal music programs in a safe environment where girls build leadership skills and self-confidence.
The girls come from a wide variety of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. GCA offers scholarships for girls who wish to participate in any of the six tuition-based choirs. The three after-school choirs are located in schools in urban neighborhoods of Grand, and operate in cooperation with the Grand Rapids Public School System.

“I support the Girls Choral Academy because it gives girls an opportunity they might not otherwise have — an opportunity to blossom, grow and mature, and express themselves,” Judge Smolenski said. “Their participation is a positive experience that carries over into every aspect in their lives.”

Smolenski’s sister Jane DeYoung and Jane’s daughters will perform at the Nov. 5 event.

Like Smolenski, not all the girls  in the GCA are destined for a musical career. “What’s important is that these girls are given an opportunity to join a group and become a team player and make a contribution...  [and] step out onto a stage and shine; that’s an opportunity they might not otherwise have,” she says. “I’m humbled to be the honoree; I’m sure there are others more worthy than I am, but I’m proud to be seen as a role model... my reward is seeing the sparkle in their eyes when they perform.”