La Plata hosts a cap­pella com­pe­ti­tion Sat.

Un­plugged to com­pete against teams in re­gional quar­ter­fi­nals

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @JamieACIndyNews

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.”

STAFF PHO­TOS BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

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.

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