The Ottumwa Courier

Education

March 19, 2013

Historic Win for OHS Show Choir

Choir named Grand Champions for first time in school history

OTTUMWA — You’ve got to get up pretty early if you want to beat the Ottumwa High School Show Choir. For the first time in the school’s history, the show choir was named Grand Champions.

 “There were tears of joy from some of the kids,” said Dennis Vasconez, choir director of Sudden Impact. “This has been years [of effort]. Two practices a week, with one at 6:30 a.m., not counting choreography and [extra] practices — all outside of school.”

Though there are music competitions for high school students, show choir, with an emphasis on pop music, show tunes and presentation, is the only school vs. school contest available. And students take it seriously.

“It’s very competitive ... cut throat,” said Vasconez. “In the choral world, there’s nothing else like it.”

OHS hit four official competitions around the state this year, which they say has been their most successful in the more than 10 years of competing. The divisions are the same as those for athletics: Ottumwa is a 4A school. The way it works, said Vasconez, is that during the regular part of the day’s competition, schools compete against others in their division. However,  judges select the best schools to compete in the finals that night. Those schools are up against anyone the judges put in the finals. OHS usually did well, with second- or third-places this year, and in the three contests where there was a final, made it into all three. This past weekend, the competition named at the end of the day was West Dubuque, Marion and Mount Pleasant.

Though the school from Dubuque was a big school, the coach’s real concern while in Manchester was from closer to home.

“Mount Pleasant has a good track record and was leading by three points (out of 600) going into the night’s competition.”

So for the day, Mount Pleasant took first place with Ottumwa in second. At night, the students from Ottumwa reversed the day’s trend: Mount Pleasant took second place, losing by just three points to Ottumwa.

It probably didn’t hurt that Ottumwa had some audible power on their side. A 20-piece band, also made up of Ottumwa students, was named “Best Band.” Jacoby Clingman took outstanding male soloist of the contest. Madalynn McKelvey and Brandon Lien each received a superior soloist award. Combined with a talented (they also won best choreography) and extremely experienced show choir (eight of their seniors will graduate this year), the group pushed past the competition to make Ottumwa High School history.

But there are more well-known competitions in the world of high school activities. Did anyone notice the Sudden Impact victory?

“I can’t walk down the hallway without someone congratulating me,” said Vasconez. “I’m hearing from kids, from parents ... and from students I hadn’t heard from in five years.”

The show choir includes dancing, singing and a backup band with guitar and bass. Parents help out backstage, and Vasconez has a co-director, his wife Melissa Vasconez. The music is the stuff people have heard of: mostly pop songs, show tunes, a ballad.

“There’s very little pausing,” he said. “There’s three costume changes in 15 minutes. For one of them, the boys had 20 seconds to change. Our closer is from the movie Rio, and there’s a mashup of [songs by] Nat King Cole and ... Dean Martin.”

They do the same four or five songs for each performance.

“We just perfect this 15 minute show. We practice, practice, practice. We started competition in February, and our last competition was this past weekend,” he said.

As for choir and band members themselves, they were ecstatic, even though they arrived back in Ottumwa around 1 a.m. following a three hour drive from Manchester.

Asked if that was an “easy” drive home, Vasconez grinned.

“Yes, it was.”

---

Note: The original version of this story incorrectly listed the soloist honors. It has been corrected to reflect the results.

1
Text Only
Education
  • 15-minutes.png A change at Evans

    OTTUMWA — You can get kids to memorize facts. But teaching them to think can take more time. Educational leaders told the Ottumwa school board that the school year that begins 2014 will shift Evans Middle School students from 45-minute periods to 60-

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418 OTT Agriculture Day color photo 2 -T -L -M Cardinal students celebrate Ag Day ELDON — Sometimes the best way to learn is to get out of the classroom and come face-to-face with things that you might not see every day. Students at Cardinal Elementary School got that chance Thursday during Ag Day. Every year, the Cardinal FFA and

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0418 OTT Joe Tafta color photo -L -T -M Pursuing opportunities

    OTTUMWA — Joe Tafta follows the rules. The Simpson College junior hopes to be a U.S. marshal one day, so he’s careful about what he says and does. But not always. On the afternoon of April 1, Tafta says, he nearly got booted out of Dunn Library for m

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0417 OTT Earth day color photo 1 -T -M Cargill celebrates Earth Day by educating ALBIA — In honor of Earth Day on Tuesday, April 22, employees from Cargill Eddyville and Cargill Pork are visiting with students at Grant Elementary and Lincoln Center in Albia all this week. On Wednesday the Courier caught up with them as they went

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • Carrying bookbags a balancing act OTTUMWA — Permission slips. Notes from teachers. School activity announcements, birthday invitations, report cards and homework to sign. Kids bring home a lot of stuff. But is it done fairly? The school board this week was asked by ranking members of

    April 16, 2014

  • Van Buren to share FFA with Harmony KEOSAUQUA — Van Buren Community School Board approved a recommendation from its administration to share the ag program with Harmony for the 2014-15 school year. The decision means that Van Buren students would travel to Harmony to receive ag instruct

    April 16, 2014

  • Where to play OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Community School District wants to discuss moving to another athletic conference. Superintendent Davis Eidahl revealed that the district has been contacted by a smaller sports league, which has extended an invitation to join the

    April 15, 2014

  • 0416 OTT Ron Oswalt mug -T School board member resigns

    OTTUMWA — As this week's school board meeting came to a close, the president read a letter from one of the members. Board President Carol Mitchell read that fellow board member Ron Oswalt was announcing his resignation from the Ottumwa Board of Educa

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0410 OTT picture Bracelets -M -T Caring Kids

    OTTUMWA — Five fourth-graders didn't need grownups to show them it feels good to help others. They found out firsthand. "I wanted to do a project with the bracelets I make. And it's better to help people than to just do a random project," Kennedy Hug

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0410 OTT Fairfield business students photo color Fairfield students proving to be future leaders

    FAIRFIELD — At Fairfield High School, students interested in making a career in a business-related field have the chance to join the Fairfield chapter of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), a nonprofit organization that helps prepare them for

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National