ICHSA Virtual Final Scheduled for Saturday, May 8
CHELMSFORD, MA (Apr. 20, 2021) – The Thursdays, an a cappella group at Chelmsford High School, won the International Championship of High School A Cappella (ICHSA) Northeast Region title for the fourth straight year and will move on to the ICHSA Final, a virtual production slated for Saturday, May 8.
The ICHSA was conducted virtually this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with a cappellas submitting their performances via video. The Thursdays topped the Northeast Region with 399 points – based on categories such as musical, vocal and visual quality and video editing – with their performance of the song Evergreen by the artist Yebba. Northern Lights, a group representing Plymouth North H.S., placed second with 389 points while Vibe, of Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy (N.Y.) H.S., placed third.
Junior Jackie Pottle was named Outstanding Soloist of the Region while senior Joshua Timmins received the honor for Outstanding Vocal Percussion. Ms. Pottle also received Outstanding Soloist honors in the Northeast Region Quarterfinal.
“I think the key to (The Thursdays) success is the clarity of intent in the crafting of their set,” said CHS Choir Director and Advisor to The Thursdays Amanda Roeder. “They have a clear vision of what they want to communicate to their audience. There is a collective buy-in from the group. Every individual recognizes their responsibility to the group.”
The Crescendos, also representing Chelmsford H.S., advanced to the Northeast Region final with their quarterfinal performance of U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2 and Otherside by Perfume Genius, but did not advance to the final.
Along with their score, The Thursdays received a critique of their video. Their video editors – seniors Allison Dorsey, Maya Chan and Mary Hamilton, as well as Ms. Roeder – will make the necessary tweaks before submitting by the Apr. 26 deadline.
Regional judging for the ICHSA Final is ongoing. Other a cappellas confirmed to join The Thursdays in the final include:
- Sting (Rockwall H.S., Rockwall, Texas, Wild Card entry)
- InToneNation (New Manchester H.S., Douglasville, Ga., South Region)
- SoundProof (Prairie Village, KS), Midwest Region
- The Ram Jams (Ramsey H.S., Ramsey, N.J., Mid-Atlantic Region)
- Knight Club (Oak Creek H.S., Oak Creek, Wisc., Great Lakes Region)
The Thursdays achievement marks the fourth straight trip to the ICHSA Final, highlighted by a third-place finish in 2019 (the 2020 semifinal and final rounds were cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak). The group’s achievement is all the more remarkable considering in-person rehearsals have been sporadic at best.
“We haven’t really been able to sing together,” said Mr. Timmins. “We’ve only had a handful of rehearsals that were in person since the singing guidelines were adjusted. It’s so difficult to gauge that group sound when you’re standing 10 feet apart. This group is smaller. We have 13 members instead of 16, but we have the same potential that we’ve had in past groups.”
Even considering The Thursdays success in recent years, no one in the group knew what to expect from 2021, especially since video presentation became a vital element of the criteria. “We’re ecstatic at how far we’ve gone,” said Ms. Pottle. “It feels like the work we’ve put in is something to be proud of, and we felt like this even before the semifinal.
“Our video editing team really stepped up to the plate,” she added. “They literally learned to use a video editing program, this entirely new platform and tool. They had never used it before. It’s a lot of dedication on their part.”
Said Mr. Timmins, “I know for myself, we went into this with no expectation. We just wanted to create a project we were proud of. All the success and recognition has been gravy. We’ve had tons of success in the past, but I don’t think any of us were expecting to win and go to the finals.”
In previous years, the ICHSA finalists traveled to New York City’s Town Hall Theater to perform and determine the national champion. While every a cappella would prefer to perform live, each has been forced to quickly adapt with the ICHSA’s 2021 virtual format.
It has not been without benefits, however. Creating a music video has enhanced The Thursdays profile, said Mr. Timmins (The Thursdays video of Evergreen had drawn over 1,200 views in a week).
While all a cappellas strive for perfection, Ms. Roeder noted that the current climate has taught a key lesson.
“I think one of the big lessons they’ve had to learn is not to be so hard on themselves,” she said. “They can’t go into it expecting the same experience. In this year where everything we do has been disrupted, we just want to have fun with it and let the chips fall where they may.”
About Chelmsford Public Schools
The Chelmsford Public School District provides all students with multiple pathways to optimize their own potential for academic excellence, leadership, and social and emotional wellness. The mission of the Chelmsford Public Schools is to educate, engage, prepare, and empower well-rounded and knowledgeable learners to PERSEVERE through challenges, demonstrate RESPECT and INTEGRITY in their words and actions, are DEDICATED to their community, and display EMPATHY as global citizens while discovering and pursuing their full potential. This PRIDE-driven culture enables all members of the school community to support the growth and development of students. For more information, please visit www.chelmsford.k12.ma.us.