La Plata singers headed for national a cappella competition

La Plata singers headed for national a cappella competition

The Unplugged a cappella group from La Plata High School is heading to the International Championship of High School a Cappella (ICHSA) finals next month as one of 10 nationwide event finalists. More than 100 high school a cappella groups from across the United States competed in one of 10 regional events. First-place regional winners advance to the final event scheduled for April 25 in New York City.

The La Plata group earned first place in the ICHSA Northeast regional event, held March 1 in Plymouth, Mass., with a score of 407 points. The group also earned an award for outstanding choreography. To compete in a regional event, a cappella groups were required to submit an audition video.  This is Unplugged’s first time competing in the event.

Members of the group include seniors Desiree Borges, Arianna Simpkins and Patrick Wathen, juniors Luke Bayer, Chase Childers, Tyler Gagnon, Josh Hilson, Blaine Hoffman, Tara Miller, Kyle Santos and Samantha Thomas, sophomores Marissa Benedict, Emily Fleming and Maria Valdisera and freshman Tayler Gorniak and Thomas Still. Denise Childers, an English teacher at La Plata, is the sponsor and founder of the group.

A cappella groups such as Unplugged perform songs and music without any instruments. Competing groups in the event are judged on both their vocal and visual performance in areas such as tone quality, balance and blend, visual cohesiveness, energy/stage presence, professionalism and creativity. The ICHSA event is the high-school level of the International Championship of Collegiate a Cappella (ICCA).

Both events are coordinated by Varsity Vocals and are two of the largest existing a cappella tournaments. Applications are accepted annually in the fall by groups interested in participating. The ICHSA shows are held in semifinal and final rounds in the spring, with the final event scheduled for April. For more information on the tournaments and Varsity Vocals, visit

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,400 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 35 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX Coordinator and Section 504 Coordinator (students), or Pamela Murphy, Section 504 Coordinator (employees/adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, Maryland 20646; (301) 932-6610/870-3814. For special accommodations call (301) 934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

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