Singing is a breeze for the combined co-ed a capella group, Acatonics, which is composed of the Acabellas and the Supertonics.
For the Acatonics, February is a jam packed month. Other than auditions for new members and singing valentines, the Acatonics are busy preparing for their quarterfinal competition on Feb. 23. The International Championship of High School A Cappella (ICHSA) is just around the corner and the chance to go to semi-finals has intensified the Acatonic’s desire to move up.
ICHSA is a competitive competition among different a capella groups in high schools around America. The competition is run by the organization Varsity Vocals, which hosts competitions including the collegiate version of ICHSA, called International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella. There are nine other competing teams from other high schools in Maryland who are also competing in the Mid Atlantic quarterfinals. Varsity Vocals’ competitions allow “singers get to connect with a larger audience from across the country, learning from their peers and finding inspiration in other groups,” Varsity Vocals said.
Last year, the Acabellas were able to secure fourth place out of the 10 a capella groups from high schools around Maryland. However, in order to advance to the semifinals, the Acatonics must place within the top two out of the 10 schools in the Mid Atlantic area. The competition is especially difficult due to the competitiveness of the other schools. One of the biggest competitors is the Dragon Scales from Appomattox Regional Governor’s School, an arts magnet school in Virginia. One of the members of the Acabellas, sophomore Christina Jung, is confident despite the difficulty of the ICHSA competition. “Last year they won the quarter finals and the semi finals. They are really good and I hope we can beat them,” Jung said.
Every day the Acatonics spend more than 45 minutes in class practicing for the ICHSA. They sing their act multiple times and practice their choreography. Occasionally the Acatonics work with people who arrange their songs in four-hour workshops to practice for the competition. “We’re trying to meet at least twice a week out of school leading up to ICHSA,” Supertonics president, senior Santiago Casas said.
The school’s a capella groups first started to participate in the ICHSA six years ago. The a capella groups began to incorporate choreography into their acts, now a major component of the competitions, only four years ago. This year, the a capella groups are trying something completely new. “It is the first time [our school] is having one a capella group instead of two. I feel like we are on a really good momentum especially after winning the radio contest and everyone is super excited,” music teacher Keith Schwartz said.
Support is much needed for the Acatonics as it is their first competition as a group. To attend the ICHSA quarter-finals, tickets must be bought beforehand online on the Varsity Vocals website. The quarter finals are at La Plata High School. “It is a really cool experience to see friends in the group in a way that you don’t normally get to see them in school. It’s also cool to have a cheering system and support at the competition,” Schwartz said.