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Boychoir is moving into St. Paul's

The 38-member Florida Boychoir, based in Seminole, will operate out of St. Paul's School next fall. The move will give the choir a new home and the financially troubled school more pupils.

Choir members, in grades four through eight, will become St. Paul's pupils but will have a slightly different schedule from other children, said Brian Collar, choirmaster.

For instance, choir members will be required to attend vocal warm-ups prior to the start of each school day.

Choir members also will attend one section rehearsal each day and a second rehearsal with the entire choir. Other requirements will be weekly music theory class, ear-training and sight reading classes on two additional days and piano lessons.

"It's not for everybody," Collar said. "The demands on the choir boy are great. It takes a very special type of boy to make this commitment."

Collar, a member of the St. Petersburg Boychoir that disbanded in the mid-1980s, started the Florida Boychoir in 1986 at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Seminole. In 1990, he moved the choir to the Seminole United Methodist Church. His original choir of eight members has grown to include a training choir and an apprentice choir in addition to the concert choir. The group performs mostly classical music in concerts around the country.

From the beginning, Collar said he hoped to start a school just for choir members or become part of an existing school.

"I began looking at this particular school two years ago," he said. He said the school's faculty, campus on St. Paul's Drive between Belleair Road and East Bay Drive, and student body convinced him to seek an affiliation.

St. Paul's headmaster Douglas Eveleth said the affiliation will benefit his school as well.

"We're real excited," Eveleth said. "It will give us a school within a school. I think it's wonderful."

St. Paul's, a private school that opened in 1968 at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in downtown Clearwater, fell on hard times last year and was forced to close its high school. Many teachers lost their jobs when only 150 students enrolled in the remaining grades this year.

Eveleth said Wednesday that the school's financial outlook is considerably brighter today.

"We're making some real strides in reducing our long-term debt," he said. "Of course, this will help by giving us more students. It will also give us some diversity."

Eveleth said he expects to open with 250 students next fall.

Collar said 18 members of his current choir have been invited to become a part of next year's group at St. Paul's. So far, 11 of the 18 have indicated they will move north with him to the Largo school, Collar said. His goal next year is a choir of 20. He is accepting applications and can be reached at 530-7744.

Choir membership and tuition cost $7,200. Collar said scholarships are available for those who meet the choir's and the school's stringent musical and academic requirements.