Show choirs overcome challenges to succeed


Sydney Ginkens

Innovation guys preform at their competition at Southeast Polk Feb. 28. Innovation won grand champion for the fifth time this season.

Kathryn Ikeda, Staff Writer

Show choirs Synergy and Innovation concluded their competitive seasons Feb. 28 at the Southeast Polk RAM Showcase with first place wins. Prep choir Synergy placed first in their division and competed in finals alongside varsity choir Innovation, who won their fifth grand champion title of the season. “It’s still kind of unbelievable,” senior Stephanie Graham said. “Only because I never thought that this would happen and every time I think about it, I just smile.”

After RAM Showcase, Innovation was ranked seventh in the nation. “It’s weird to think about,” Graham said. “It just seems so crazy when you could get seventh at a competition, let alone in the entire nation.”

New director Hannah Ryan credits Innovation’s success to their determination and passion for show choir. “You can see the genuine passion and love in their eyes as they perform,” she said. “We have those rehearsals where they’re focused and working hard, but you can tell that they’re loving it.”

Innovation’s numerous awards did not come easily. “In a group like that and in rehearsals you always have wonderful rehearsals and you have not-so-wonderful rehearsals,” Ryan said. “It’s a really big roller coaster ride, there are days where we’re all frustrated because I’m trying to fix something and they think they’ve already fixed it, but it’s not happening.”

In the beginning of the year, Ryan felt as if she had to prove herself to the students. “We started off with rough patches,” Ryan said. “To a lot of them, I was the ninth grade director who had taught them in middle school, so I think at the beginning stages I did have some students who were hesitant towards me and my abilities to direct a high school choir so I had to work through that.”

The hesitation of some students was apparent to more students than just Ryan. “We had some issues with some people kind of acting like they didn’t want to do this,” Graham said. “They didn’t want to be there, and they didn’t like change, so it was hard to get people on the right track and to stay focused.”

Ryan also found herself questioning her own skill. “I knew that there were some students who questioned my abilities and so therefore I started to question myself,” she said. “I kind of felt like I had to prove to them and to myself that I could do this, and the first few months were pretty rough.”

The tension was high for Innovation when they first began rehearsing together at the start of the year. “In the beginning of the season we were all kind of at each other’s throats,” senior Spencer Jenkins said. “It wasn’t very fun, and it wasn’t until after the first competition that we realized that we could actually do this.”

After some time, Ryan became more confident in her new role. “After a few months I kind of took stepped back and said ‘okay, we’re getting there, now it’s time to start having some fun,’” she said. “And so we kind of had a little bit of a chit-chat and things turned around.”

The chit-chat and dedication of the performers proved to pay off. “We just had to get focused and realize that we still had the opportunity to be great,” Graham said. “Once everyone did we got along really well and once we got our first grand champ I think we really realized like ‘okay, if we just focus this is fine.’”

After all of her success, nobody in Innovation doubted Ryan. “She really showed everybody what she’s made of, and it’s that she’s pretty amazing,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins is not the only student with a high perception of Ryan. “Everyone realizes that [Ryan’s] the real deal,” Graham said. “It would have been awesome for her to get one grand champ, let alone five, and that’s just so crazy for a first-year varsity director in the district. It’s really amazing.”

Synergy also overcame challenges over the course of their season. “We got fourth at Waukee and fourth at Keokuk,” sophomore Trent Wignall said. “That was so depressing, because at our first competition we got first and then we thought that we were going to do so well this season, but then we got two fourths in a row. Everyone was like discouraged and we were all sad and sorry for ourselves.”

After going through rough patches, Synergy realized that potential would not alone put them at where they wanted to be. “We definitely had our ups and downs,” senior Sam Wilkinson said. “At the beginning of this year, we were told by a lot of people that we had a lot of potential but it wasn’t until we starting getting like fourth place twice when we realized that we really had to work if we wanted to get first again.”

Even through their rough times, Synergy was still willing to focus though it may have been difficult. “After Keokuk, everyone was just so done with show choir,” Wignall said. “Because we work so hard, and then we didn’t get what we wanted, or what we thought we would get. I thought that after that at rehearsals people would be discouraged and wouldn’t want to try but I was pleasantly surprised when everybody came in and was ready to work hard.”

Rehearsals after the disappointing competitions were very focused. “They were willing to do what ever they had to get better,” Samantha Robilliard, Synergy’s director, said. “We focused on what need to be done to be better, so we just were 100 percent the whole time, just making the show better.”

At Southeast Polk RAM Showcase, Synergy scored so high, they had the opportunity to compete in finals as the only prep group. They beat a varsity group to win fifth place.
“It’s a neat thing,” Robilliard said. “However, I also feel bad for the group that we beat because it is hard to lose to a prep group. So on one hand its really neat that we’re that good but on the other hand I always want us to remember who we are and what we stand for, and that we aren’t out to necessarily beat other groups but to do our very best.”

Overall, Synergy members were proud of how they finished their season. “We started this season great and we ended greater,” Wignall said.

Innovation had the potential to do well at nationals this year, however, they were not able to attend this year due to lack of funding.