Teacher Feature: James Fryer


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Mr. Fryer, West’s new Choir teacher.

Summit Larson, Reporter

After six years of direction under Gabrielle “GG” Pierle, West High choirs have received an exciting change: a new director, James “JT” Fryer.

This year will be Fryer’s eighth year teaching as he comes to West all the way from his home in New Jersey. His journey up to the 49th state gained impetus once his wife accepted a job up here last fall and Fryer followed after accepting the position at West.

Fryer’s journey to become a choir director, however, is far longer than his journey up to Alaska. From a young age Fryer knew that he wanted to become a teacher, but his compulsion to music wasn’t always crystal clear. He began his college education at Penn State University studying to become a science teacher. However, after enduring freshman chemistry, he followed the professor’s advice and started on a different path. This path led him to the University of Delaware to music. He chose this path because, in his words, “music was a safe haven for me in high school and college.”

Fryer initially started singing his sophomore year of high school. At the suggestion of his friend, Fryer tried out for the school musical and was cast as the Jester in Once Upon a Mattress. The rest is history as he’s been singing ever since.

Outside of singing, Fryer loves to go hiking and has recently taken up baking and cooking. In addition, he’s a huge sports fan, mainly enjoying American football and soccer. Fryer cheers on the Penn State sports teams as well as the Tennessee Titans football team and Manchester United soccer club.

Although Alaska has taken some getting used to, Fryer has truly enjoyed his time at West thus far, getting to know the students and the staff. He considers West choir to have “an incredibly high level of music making” which allows for “really advanced topics that we’re able to tackle….it’s honestly been a dream working with these kids here,” he says. He has also started to accept the Alaskan wilderness, and he goes on hikes with his wife every weekend.

Fryer also seems to have some pretty interesting and ambitious plans for the future of West High choir. He plans to obtain more national recognition by participating in music conferences in the Lower 48. His overall goal is to continue West High choir’s competitive legacy for many years to come.

For some final words of wisdom, Fryer speaks to any students considering pursuing choir or music in general. “Try it. Just try it. You don’t know if it’s for you or not until you try it and no one is ever too cool to give music or anything else a try,” he says.