MT. PLEASANT — Months of hard work and practice have finally led the Mt. Pleasant Community School District’s show choirs into their competition season.
Mt. Pleasant Middle School’s Chain Reaction and Mt. Pleasant High School’s InMotion performed at their home invitational last Saturday. While the Chain Reaction and InMotion performed as exhibition teams, the 27th annual Music in Motion held at Mt. Pleasant High School hosted a total of 14 teams competing in various categories.
For many of the middle schoolers in Chain Reaction, their performance at the high school gym was the first time they were in front of a crowd of several hundreds. Their performance at the invitational was also the first time they had ever performed their entire set, which included “Kyrie,” “Stand in the Light” and “Amazing.”
As the 7th and 8th graders stepped on to perform on Saturday, Mt. Pleasant high school students crowded the stage to show their support for the younger team.
“I was terrified,” 8th-grader Robbie Heaton, a soloist for Chain Reaction, said. “I was shaking the entire time, but it was amazing while it was happening.”
Heaton said he decided to join the show choir for multiple reasons. In addition to his love for singing and dance, show choir is something his father did in school.
“I really like music and singing. My dad did it when he was in middle school and high school and I just had a lot of push to do it,” Heaton said.
Chain Reaction is directed by Phillip Schroetter, Mt. Pleasant Middle School’s fine arts teacher. Following their performance, Schroetter said he felt his students performed really well.
“I’m very proud of them. The energy at this performance is always great and it really just pumps them up for the rest of the season. It makes them super excited and energized,” Schroetter said.
Schroetter added that students audition for the show choir at the beginning of the school year and practice three times a week for about an hour before school. The group will compete at the Fort Madison invitational in March.
“Middle school kids are fun. They’re in that learning phase and you’re trying to get them to continue all the way through high school … they have to do a lot on their own. They have to own up a lot of stuff. They have to practice because we just don’t have the rehearsal time to do it but they love it and you can tell they love it because they’re able to pull it off,” Schroetter said.
“I really enjoy singing,” Summer Schroeder, an 8th grader, said about why she wanted to join.
Schroeder also performed a solo during Chain Reaction’s set. Similar to Heaton, the stage was a little terrifying to begin with but she quickly got a hang of the performance.
“It was really hot and nerve-wracking but it was really fun,” she said, “I hope we all do good and all have as much fun at all our other performances.”
While the invitational was one of the first show choir experiences many of the middle schoolers, for high school seniors Yorke Prough, Lilly Pereira and Jonathan Myers, this year’s Music in Motion will be their final home invitational.
For all three seniors, show choir has been something they have been involved in since middle school. Their experience with the music program at Mt. Pleasant has inspired both Prough and Myers to become band and choir teachers. Pereira also plans to continue performing as she heads off to college.
“It’s just been a great experience, we’re kind of like a family,” Prough said.
“We’ve really learned how to work together as a team. Everything is fun with show choir, just being part of the group and being able to perform after working so many hours on the show,” Myers added.
“We’re all just very close,” Pereira said.
For the three seniors, Saturday was a little bitter sweet. As the three move on to their university careers, they said show choir is an integral part of their high school experience they will never forget.
“It’s amazing, we’ve all been in it for so long and now this is our last home invitational. I had a solo this year and that’s a whole different level of being nervous. I worked so hard to get where I am and I got to work my way up so that’s cool,” Pereira said.
“There’s so much energy in the room that just hits your body. It’s something special and something I cherish, especially being in a group,” Myers said.
Marlene DePriest, the high school’s vocal music instructor, said watching the students transform from their first practice to their last is an incredibly rewarding experience. Similar to the middle school students, the high schoolers audition for the choir and begin rehearsals once a week at the beginning of the year. As competition season approaches, the choir begins to practice more frequently.
InMotion will compete at three more invitationals this year. The group travel to Pella on Feb. 22, Central Lee on Feb. 29 and March 7 Fort Madison.
“The kids sing well and work hard and try to do anything I ask them to do. They really just enjoy it a lot,” DePriest said, “I always tell them to just leave it all on the stage. If they try their best, there’s nothing more I can really ask of them.”