La Plata hosts a cappella competition Sat.
Unplugged to compete against teams in regional quarterfinals
La Plata High School’s a cappella group Unplugged is hoping to keep the beat as they go headto-head against seven other high school a cappella groups this Saturday.
La Plata High will be hosting the mid-Atlantic quarterfinal of the Inter- national Competition of High School A Cappella (ICHSA) Saturday, Feb. 4, at 7 p.m. The school will compete against a cappel- la groups from Rockville, Bethesda, Annapolis, Haddon Heights, N.J., and Petersburg, Va.
Tickets can be pur- chased at varsityvocals. com. Admission is $15 for students and $20 for adults.
The top two finishing teams will go on to the ICHSA Mid-Atlantic Semi- finals April 1 in Cherry Hill, N.J.
The top two finishing teams from that competition will get to go on to the International Championship of High School A Cappella, held April 21 at The Town Hall in New York City.
The ICHSA competition is in a similar format to the college-level a cappella competition, which was depicted in fictionalized form in the films “Pitch Perfect” and “Pitch Perfect 2,” said Unplugged sponsor Denise Childers.
“Because the movie was so popular, more schools are coming up with groups now, so because of that, they’ve gone from a semi-final/final format to add a quarterfinal round, because there is so much more interest now,” Childers said.
Childers said that teams are judged on their sing- ing ability, choreography and stage presence.
Childers, an English teacher at the school, was one of the founding mem- bers of the University of Maryland College Park Treblemakers, an all-female a cappella group. She began teaching at La Plata in 2001.
“After being here some time, I thought it would be nice to start an a cappella group here, would be kind of fun,” Childers said. “So in 2009, I literally just got some of my En- glish students together to form a group. It was very informal; there weren’t any auditions, and then each succeeding year, there’s been more inter- est in the group.”
Unplugged currently consists of 12 students, ranging from freshmen to seniors, who had to audition to join the group. Childers said the group first began competing in 2014, when they made it to the finals.
Bella Aron, 17, a junior, said her sister had been a founding member of the a cappella group.
“Ever since seeing her perform, I wanted to be a part of it,” Aron said. “I was a little nervous, but in my freshman year I tried out [and] I’ve been here ever since.”
Aron, now competing for her third year, said she enjoys performing on stage.
“When you’re up on stage and you’re hav- ing your big-time performance that you’ve worked really hard on, spent all your time on, practiced your songs, it’s just a really good feeling to put it out there for the world,” Aron said.
Madelyn Mudd, 14, a freshman, said she joined because she enjoys sing- ing and wanted to be a part of the group so she auditioned this school year. She said she really enjoys the camaraderie.
“Everyone here is really nice and caring, and it’s good to get to know new people who have the same talents,” Mudd said.
Mudd said she’s nervous about Saturday’s competition, which will be her first.
“It’s kind of nerve-wracking, because I’ve never done an a cappella competition before,” Mudd said. “I’ve just done performances, like our coffeehouse, so it’ll be different having judges staring at you but I’m sure it will be fun, especially when you’re per- forming with such amaz- ing people.”
Thomas Still, 17, a senior, said he’d heard about the group in middle school and wanted to join. Still said he enjoys meet- ing a cappella groups from other schools.
“I’m really looking forward to meeting groups from other regions, and I’m excited to just sing together,” Still said.
Childers said the set list that Unplugged will perform contains a wide variety of musical genres and styles.
“We choose some songs that are very upbeat, some that are very slow,” Childers said. “The slow songs allow you to demonstrate your musicality. And then we definitely have a favorite we’re saving for our closing number. It’s a little dark, but it allows the students to really get into the song and dance.”
Childers said the members of Unplugged are not only excellent singers, but great students as well.
“They’re really very talented kids. They’re very creative,” Childers said. “One of the things that’s really interesting about this particular group is this isn’t all they do. The students I have here are multi-talented. They’re also in our theater program. They’re also involved in sports, they’re also involved in a host of other extracurriculars. I’m amazed at how well they do in the classroom, academically, I’m amazed that they’re able to balance this with their work, their schedules, everything outside of this.”
La Plata High School juniors Bailey Latimer and Bella Aron rehearse for Saturday’s regional a capella quarterfinals.
La Plata High School junior Bella Aron, center, and members of the school’s a cappella group Unplugged rehearse for Saturday’s regional a cappella competition.
La Plata High School sophomore Edwin Santos, center, and members of the school’s a cappella group Unplugged rehearse in preparation for Saturday’s a cappella regional competition at the school.