In their 42nd season, The St. John’s Boys’ Choir has introduced a brand-new mentorship program for boys in grades 3-5 who audition and are accepted into the choir. The goal of the mentorship program is to promote leadership opportunities for the eighth-grade choristers and to provide the newest boys with role models that will demonstrate what it means to be a St. John’s choirboy.
“The SJBC has been built upon the boys that have gone before the current roster of singers,” said Aaron Carpenter, the organization’s artistic director. “It is important that our newest choirboys understand this history by connecting through the mentorship program with boys who have already been where they are today.”
The mentorship program instantly connects the newest choristers with older boys in the program and offers them a sense of belonging on day one. In addition, this program gives an opportunity for the eighth graders to put into practice their leadership skills, which have been developed through The SJBC Leadership Camp, held each summer for second year Junior Varsity boys and eighth and ninth graders.
The Mentorship Program is led by Matt Kiminski, who started with the SJBC in 2016 as a student staff member, accompanied the JV choir from 2017 to 2021, and moved into the associate artistic director role in 2022.
“Under the leadership of Mr. Kiminski, this program will continue to develop because of his unique position of working with both the Nova Voce eighth graders in rehearsal and as choirboys for the past several years and the new Training Choir boys. He understands the importance of handing down traditions and expectations of the SJBC,” Carpenter said.
Kiminski feels that the mentorship program will strengthen the SJBC as a whole by providing a more synthesized boys’ choir culture.
“It creates connections across our choirs that will bolster the experiences of all boys and keep the organization moving forward with a unified mission and vision,” Kiminski said.
Brad and Ana Miller of Sartell have two sons in the Training Choir who are part of the Mentorship Program.
“We had been planting the seed, so to speak, about the SJBC with our sons ever since we moved to the area in the summer of 2021. After KidsSing last winter and Sing in the Summer, they were really excited to join,” the Millers said. “For us, the focus on teaching life skills through music is such a key component of the program. One can clearly see the intention behind the development of character. Our boys really enjoy their mentors. Being able to interact with the older boys has been very positive and helped deepen their commitment to the SJBC. They see where they are headed and are excited about it.”
Kiminski has seen an elevated sense of commitment and collegiality among the youngest boys.
“Our Training Choir is excited about working together, helping each other grow, and doing their best work,” Kiminski said. “Additionally, our eighth-grade mentors are excited about sharing our traditions and culture with others, which gives us great momentum as we continue to share our organization with the community post-pandemic.
“My hope for the mentorship program is that it continues to grow and flourish so that our mentors adopt a sense of independence and enthusiasm,” Kiminski added. “Since the program is so new, the staff has had a lot of direct involvement in developing the program and the activities that happen during rehearsal, but I anticipate our eighth graders taking the reins more and more moving forward.”
“It has been wonderful to see the pride the mentors take in the boys they have in their group and to see the pride the Training Choir boys in telling me who their mentor is. For example, when the Training Choir had a performance recently, several boys came with their ties already tied (something they learn from their mentor). When asked who their mentor was, they beamed and were excited to tell me who it was. This is what the mentorship program is all about – building relationships from the very beginning.”
Auditions for boys grades 3-5 are being held January 27-28. To learn more, visit sjbchoir.org.