BARRON, Wis. – Standing under the lights in the middle of a football field, the members of Barron’s combined middle school and high school choir delivered perhaps the most important performance of their lives on Monday.
They sang “Music Changes the World” into the night under a full moon, hoping and believing their music would reach Jayme Closs somewhere.
“Our community stands behind her,” choir members said into the microphone, “and with her in hope.”
Jayme, a 13-year-old Riverview Middle School student, had been a part of their choir until she disappeared one week ago.
“Jayme is a beautiful kid, just like all the other beautiful kids you saw singing,” Barron superintendent Diane Tremblay said, moments after the “Gathering of Hope” event ended at Barron High School. “We have hope. And we’re gonna bring Jayme home.”
This grieving community of Barron County and Western Wisconsin spent a few hours on Monday evening listening to soft music, lighting candles and consoling one another over the tragedy that occurred here one week ago. Mental health professionals from the county were in attendance for anyone who needed their services.
Pastor Ron Matthews, a local faith leader, addressed the crowd of a few hundred shortly after 7 p.m. to share a message of optimism.
“Hope is the sheer presence of peace, in the midst of grief and deep sadness,” he said. “One community. Many faiths. But one Gathering of Hope that Jayme will be returned safely to us.”
The crowd also listened to Chris Kroeze, a hometown hero from Barron who is currently participating in NBC’s The Voice on national television.
His performance? It was a rendition of “Let it Be.”