Saturday, February 18, 2012

Local Choir Controversy Gains National Attention

by KREX News Room
by Jordan Sherman

Denver - A story that has sparked heated debate locally over the past few days receives national attention on FOX and Friends, the early show for the FOX network. NewsChannel 5 reporter Matt Kroschel broke the story Tuesday about a Grand Junction High School student who quit choir after his teacher included a song that praised the Islamic god Allah.

On Thursday morning, FOX and Friends producers contacted Matt with an interview request for Friday morning. Matt agreed and set off for Denver shortly after 6:00 PM Thursday night.

Little did we know that on the way to Denver, the story would continue to unfold. Matt received a phone call from James Harper, the student at the center of the controversy, stating that he had received written threats. "Some kids at school sent messages. None of them were direct like, 'I will kick your ass', but one of them said you better not come back. The other said shut your mouth or I'll do something about it."

The threats against Harper only strengthened Matt's resolve to maintain balance in his coverage at the national level.

After a night of nerves and little sleep in Denver, we set out for KDVR FOX at 4:00 AM, and Matt began his live interview at 4:55 AM. The interview lasted around two minutes, but as Matt said, "I think the interview went well. I think we got across the facts of the story we had."

Friday, February 17, 2012

National attention for my exclusive story

I was on Fox and Friends this morning talking about a story I broke earlier this week about a student who quit a Grand Junction High School choir over an Islamic prayer song. More info at

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Religious Music In High School Choir Forces Student To Quit Singin

Islamic Prayer Song Being Sung By Grand Junction High School Choir


by Matt Kroschel

Grand Junction-- A Grand Junction High School student wants a song picked for the after-school men's choir group pulled, because he says the Islamic piece is not appropriate for a public school choir.

The song is called 'Zikr' and its composer says is not intended for a worship ceremony.
or senior James Harper, a Christian who is active in his local church, the wording and meaning of the song is such that he feels it should not be performed by students in a public school setting.

“I don’t want to come across as a bigot or a racist, but I really don’t feel it is appropriate for students in a public high school to be singing an Islamic worship song,” Harper told NewsChannel Five.

Harper sent an email to District 51 officials expressing his concerns with the song. He also contacted the KREX newsroom.

District officials said while they understand not everyone will agree with or appreciate songs due to the religious nature of the pieces, they completely stand behind both the music teacher and the song.

“This is about bringing diversity to the students and showing them other things that are out there,” spokesman Jeff Kirtland said. “The teacher was open with the parents and students do not have to participate in this voluntary club choir.”

The upbeat, rhythmic song combines dancing with drums. School officials said the teacher, knowing that there may be some questions about the song, asked her students to watch a Youtube video of the song and passed out the English translation to students.

GJHS choir instructor Marcia Wieland’s professional work as a conductor and teacher spans a wide variety of ages including experiences with high school, collegiate, and adult choirs. Ms. Wieland holds a Bachelor of Music in Choral Music Education from Oakland University.

To watch the entire song CLICK HERE

Monday, February 13, 2012

HAZMAT Teams Prepare for Possible Grand Valley Disaster

By Matt Kroschel

Grand Junction - With thousands of tons of dangerous chemicals passing through the Grand Valley every year over the open road and on the rails, a specialized unit of firefighters is preparing for the worst case scenario.

At the Grand Junction Fire Department's station three, firefighters with specialized gear and training to deal with an assortment of hazardous materials are stationed and ready at a moment's notice to respond to a hazmat incident.

Regular training exercises keep the first responders up to speed with the latest hazardous materials and tactics they can use if they do have to respond to a hazmat incident.

The Mesa County emergency manager's office oversees the entire response operations for any emergency incident in the county, and that includes hazmat situations.