WHS a cappella group is in New York for ICHSA finals April 25

Attendance at Wilsonville High School is down by 20 students and one teacher this week, as the school’s a cappella group, Soul’d Out, is spending the week in New York City. Soul’d Out will compete for a national a cappella title at the ICHSA competition April SUBMITTED PHOTO: JAKE YOUNG PHOTOGRAPHY - In preparation for the national competition this week in New York, the 20 members of Sould Out have been meeting for rehearsals that last for up to eight hours.

The group has been meeting since the beginning of the school year for hour-long rehearsals before the school day begins. In January, the group won the ICHSA regional competition and earned the right to compete in New York. Since then, under the direction of teacher Sue Schreiner, the group has divided its time between extra rehearsals and fundraising to pay for the trip across the nation.

The fundraising started slowly, according to Schreiner, but recently picked up after a parent-led garage sale fundraiser and large donations from the city of Wilsonville, the Clackamas County Arts Coalition, Wilsonville’s Kiwanis Club and the Rotary Club of Tualatin.

“There are people from all over the place that gave us from $2 to $500,” Schreiner said. “There’s just too many people to mention. The best is the person who sends $20 just because they want to help.”

The goal was to bring in enough money to cover all travel and lodging expenses for the students, including rehearsal space in Manhattan near the site of the competition. Schreiner said the fundraising efforts were about $10,000 short of that mark. Each singer’s family likely will end up spending about $500 for food and miscellaneous expenses from Tuesday through Sunday in what Schreiner called “quite a spendy adventure.”

Many of the singers’ families are making the trip to support their students, too.

“We’re fortunate. The parents have just done everything they could to get there,” Schreiner said. “It’s nice to have an audience full of fans.”

Although he won’t be on hand for the competition Saturday, Superintendent Bill Rhoades is planning to stop by the group’s rehearsal space on Wednesday. He traveled on the East coast to run in Monday’s Boston Marathon, and took a 5 a.m. train from Boston to New York to support Soul’d Out.

“Talk about a leader that supports us,” Schreiner said. “It’s nice to see how many people are pulling for us.”

Soul’d Out won’t be relying only on that fan base to provide a competitive advantage. The extra practice sessions have allowed the group to hone its performance to a fine edge.

“We work on a variety of things from dynamics, to dancing, to facial expressions, to matching our vowels, to tempo and anything we can find to better our performance as a group,” singer Hayley Rouselle said.

“They know the music backward and forward, and the choreography is starting to be impeccable,” Schreiner said. “We have all those elements. We just have to put them together.”

“Soul’d Out is focused,” singer Jason Black said. “We are all focused on winning, as we think of ourselves as a professional group.”

This competition marks the group’s third appearance at the ICHSA finals and, Schreiner said, the students who are returning to the competition bring a confident attitude.

“We go in to win,” she said. “The kids will do everything they can. We’re pulling out all the stops.”

Just getting to New York is a triumph of sorts.

“Performing in New York is every performer’s dream,” Rouselle said. “So to see that dream come true not only for me but for the rest of the group is truly amazing.”

Soul’d Out will be competing against nine other groups from Maryland, Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, New Jersey and Illinois. Schreiner has reminded her singers that all the teams are taking the competition just as seriously as Soul’d Out is.

“I think the competition will be a really great show to watch,” Black said. “I’m interested to see what artistic choices the other groups have made.”

After the hard work of fundraising and preparing for the competition and the stress of traveling to get there and of rehearsing in an unfamiliar location, Schreiner’s schedule for the week allows ample time for relaxing and sightseeing.

“At some point, I’ll tell them it’s time to let go and have some fun: ‘Smile — it’s going to be amazing,’” she said.

“They’re great kids. It’s so much fun,” she added. “They’ll do their best and it will be terrific.”

The ICHSA finals will be held April 25, starting at 7 p.m., at the Peter Norton Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, in New York City. Learn more online at

By Kate Hoots
Education reporter
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