A cappella grooves its way back in person


Photo by Hannah Rah

Junior Esther Ou, freshman Naysa Mustafa and senior Elizabeth Ice practice songs together for a cappella.

After a year of virtual school, arts programs are making their returns to normalcy, including a cappella. The two a cappella groups, the Acabellas and the Supertonics, look forward to the return of in-person events and performances as they gear up for this school year.

 The return of face-to-face learning has allowed a cappella to reestablish aspects of its usual group format. Traditionally, the Acabellas and the Supertonics prepare certain performances separately and come together as one team during competitions. However, the interruptions to the school year the pandemic posed last year prevented the two teams from practicing separately, but this aspect has returned this year. “We compete together but we sometimes perform separately. We separate for Christmas carols, Valentine’s Day and after competitions, we do [Aca]bella songs and [Super]tonics songs. We haven’t done that for the past two years because of COVID, but will be doing so this year,” senior and Acabellas president Elizabeth Ipe said. 

Because in-person competitions were not an option last year, a cappella adapted to the virtual format by editing songs together online. This year, the group will return to in-person events, including the International Championship for High School A Cappella (ICHSA). Students are looking forward to preparing for the competition in the presence of their peers. “I’m looking forward to the ICHSA competition in the spring, which is a competition we do every year. We learn songs and some choreography for them too, and if we do well, we level up, so I’m excited to learn these songs thoroughly, polish them and sing at a high level with all the members,” junior Esther Ou said. 

Something I’m really looking forward to is caroling at Rio. I’m a big fan of Christmas music so I think it’ll be lots of fun.”

— Justin Wang

Another in-person event a cappella members are excited for is getting into the holiday spirit through Christmas caroling. “Something I’m really looking forward to is caroling at Rio. I’m a big fan of Christmas music so I think it’ll be lots of fun,” senior Justin Wang said. 

A cappella has already begun learning and practicing songs for both school events and competitions. “So far, we’ve prepared songs for school performances, but we’ve also begun our competition set, which consists of three totally versatile songs. We’re hoping to finish learning the songs in November and begin choreography by December,” Ipe said. 

A cappella has integrated new members into the group, some of whom decided to join after seeing how the Acabellas and the Supertonics adjusted to virtual learning last year. “This is my first year [in a cappella]. I got interested in them last year when I saw the songs they put on YouTube and I thought they were all high level performers. They all seemed to be enjoying themselves and the music was also very interesting, as I’d never done anything pop before and wanted to try something new,” Ou said. 

A cappella members most enjoy being able to participate in the music making process as a part of the group. “My favorite part of a cappella is being able to make music with people every day at school,” Wang said.

Ou agrees, as she most appreciates the “time that you can spend with the other members because we are very student-led and we get to learn from each other and help each other and enjoy singing together.”