Hall Pass, a professional music troupe, will perform at Ticonderoga Middle School Monday, Nov. 21, 1 to 2:30 p.m. It will repeat its performance Tuesday, Nov. 22, 1 to 3 p.m. at Crown Point Central School. The group includes, back from left, Janelle “j.RENEÉ” Bechdol, co-creator and headlining singer; Holly Monelle Murchison, the Hall Pass co-creator, tour manager and host; front, Jamal “ScienZe” Monsanto, headlining emcee; Jemar “Meezy” Souza, assistant tour manager and digital marketer; and Michael “DJ Kraff” Lawrence, tour DJ.
Crown Point and Ticonderoga students will take part in concerts with a message.
Hall Pass, a professional music troupe, will perform at Ticonderoga Middle School Monday, Nov. 21, 1 to 2:30 p.m. It will repeat its performance Tuesday, Nov. 22, 1 to 3 p.m. at Crown Point Central School.
“The Hall Pass Tour is exactly that — a concert series,” said Holly Monelle Murchison, the Hall Pass co-creator, tour manager and host. “We hope to inspire more students and concert attendees, in general, to consider higher education and give them the spark and confidence to actively pursue their dreams.”
Murchison compared Hall Pass to a pep rally.
“Have you ever been to a pep rally?,” she asked. “See how excited everyone gets about the big homecoming game? Well, that’s what the Hall Pass Tour is, the pep rally. And college is the big homecoming game. The tour is a series of high energy, K-12 after-school concerts at under-served schools that use music to advance access to higher education and provide a space for communities to support their youth.”
The Hall Pass visits to Ti and Crown Point are being sponsored by the College For Every Student Program.
Some students will actually perform during the concert events. Hall Pass held auditions in Ticonderoga and Crown Point Nov. 7. Student performers were selected to serve as opening acts for the concerts.
“We allow students to take the lead,” Murchison said. “At each school, we hold auditions and select students to either open for our headliners, co-host or co-DJ, and share their college and career aspirations to motivate their peers to dream bigger. We also dish out some cool giveaways, present a variety of awards to students and faculty and provide useful college resources.”
Elaine Dixon, Crown Point principal, is looking forward to the Hall Pass performance.
“We first learned about the Hall Pass Tour through CFES,” Dixon said. “We thought it sounded like a lot of fun and are all well aware that we have many talented students here at Crown Point.”
The Hall Pass concert in Crown Point will help kick off the school’s bullying prevention program.
“We hope to have several things accomplished by having the tour at Crown Point,” Dixon sad. “First of all, it gives our talented students a chance to shine and audition with a professional company. The tour group asked all of the students to try to send a positive message with their performance and uplift someone else, our hope is that the entire day will be uplifting and encourage our students to be the best they can be. In combining the two programs, we hope that at the very least the students see the connection with success in life and treating others with dignity and kindness.”
Bruce Tubbs. Ticonderoga Elementary-Middle School principal, learned about Hall Pass a year ago.
“Last year we had the chance to have the lead singer, Janelle Bechdol, visit our school to do a talk about her journey through college as a music major, her experiences as a contestant on American Idol and her trip to Hollywood, and her work she is doing as the education program manager for Ernst and Young LLP,” Tubbs said. “At that time we had her do a short performance for the middle school. She and some of her music friends have now put together a program called the Hall Pass Tour, which combines music and leadership as students look toward planning for college.”
Tubbs is looking forward to the Ti show.
“I think that this will be an opportunity for our students to not only perform with some professional musicians, but to get an extremely positive message about looking toward and planning for their future beyond high school,” he said. “In addition, we have done a great deal of work with CFES through mentoring using college athletics to connect with our students. That has been very successful, however, using music we will be able to reach even more students in getting the message out to start planning for college. I think it is very important that the planning process begin as early as possible and using the talents of the Hall Pass Tour will be both engaging and educational for our students.”
Murchison said the Hall Pass crew is excited about visiting Ticonderoga and Crown Point.
“We had our sights set on reaching rural schools and Crown Point and Ticonderoga are a perfect fit,” she said. “From what we've seen in their work as College For Every Student schools, they’re always eager to participate in activities that strengthen their school culture and benefit their students. That desire to become better and constantly work on improving made it an easy decision for us.”
Hall Pass will visit 16 schools across Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts and New York this fall.
The traveling troupe includes Murchison; Janelle “j.RENEÉ” Bechdol, co-creator and headlining singer; Jemar “Meezy” Souza, assistant tour manager and digital marketer; Jamal “ScienZe” Monsanto, headlining emcee; and Michael “DJ Kraff” Lawrence, tour DJ.
“One of us is the first in our family to receive a college degree, three of us are proud college graduates, all of us were under-served students from low-income families who went on to attend college,” Murchison said. “We’re passionate about music and education and we built the tour to preserve the arts and assure that the students who are where we once were, have ample opportunities to shine.”