Taking it to the next level: Competition ’08

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By: Beverly Jenkins <bjenkins@hilite.org>

Tomorrow starts the month when many performing arts competitions will be starting up, and both the Accents and Ambassadors are hard at work, preparing for competitions.
Both choirs will head to North Central tomorrow for the first competition this season, and the choirs will head to Lawrence Central on Mar. 14 for the State competition. Last year, the Ambassadors won the State competition, and Lamonte Kuskye, choir and musical theater teacher, has high hopes for this year as well. “This time of year, we really push (the choir members) to reach a level in performance that they don’t normally reach. …I sure hope that we do well this year.”

Kuskye added that being invited to the State competition in the first place is the first step. With State only two weeks away, the members have, and have had, a lot of preparation in their futures. All of the choir members are coming in before and after school for more and more rehearsals, which began getting more frequent and longer during the February month.

According to member Sarah Donaldson, Accents member and junior, the members of the Accents and Ambassadors spend at least nine hours rehearsing at school alone. Members are also expected to spend plenty of time outside of school rehearsing and taking extracurricular vocal and dance lessons in order to stay in tip-top vocal and choreographed shape.

This preparation does, however, take a toll on the students’ time for anything else. “It’s definitely hard to keep on top of things,” Evan Cain, Ambassadors member and junior, said. “Anywhere you look (around here), there’s someone working on a monologue or singing a song or practicing choreography.”
With such an investment of time and work put into being a member of the Accents or Ambassadors, the members of the choirs must have a drive and connection to the arts.

“What a lot of people don’t understand,” Cain explained, “is that many of the people in the choirs really want to make this a part of their careers. …It’s just the feeling of being on stage that’s so great.”

Donaldson agrees. She is a choir member who also spends a lot of time as a theater student as well. “It’s the feeling that you get when you see someone in the audience really touched by your monologue or inspiring a little kid. …Passion plus talent really equals success in this department.”
Many choir members are involved in theater such as Donaldson.However, being in two separate parts of the performing arts department can be overwhelming.

For example, the theater State competition is on the same day and at the same time as the choir State competition, but in a different location. Donaldson said, “I’m not exactly sure (what I will be doing), but basically, I will be shuttling back and forth, from choir State to theater State, all day.”
Despite the time spent in the choir is sometimes overwhelming, the experience is gratifying. Choir members gain knowledge that many plan to use later in life after graduation, and the reputation the Ambassadors and Accents have is notable.

Between the fall productions, Holiday Spectacular and moving straight into preparing for the upcoming competition season, choir students rarely get a break.

“From Holiday (Spectacular) to the end of choir season, I really just don’t sleep,” Julia Bonnett, Ambassadors member and junior, said. “Even when we do have time to ourselves, we’re doing something with (other choir students.) A lot of times we’ll have singing parties or something.When I do have time to myself, I’m thinking to myself: what do I do with myself?”

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