Rockets choir soars to Disney gold

Parent chaperone: ‘It was an adventure’
Broken-down bus, rain storm, 1st place finish highlight Orlando trip

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* Photo gallery – the choir returns

ROCKINGHAM — Members of the Rockingham Middle School Choir must have wondered what all the fuss was about.

After all, flashing lights atop a Richmond County Sheriff’s Office cruiser usually don’t mean something good. This time, it did. This time, the lights — and full police escort — was all for the 96-member strong group that earned a first-place finish in its division at Festival Disney on Friday at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Lauren Lutz, RMS choral director, and John Tyson display the first-place trophies earned by the Rockets choir on Friday at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Lauren Lutz, RMS choral director, and John Tyson display the first-place trophies earned by the Rockets choir on Friday at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

Law enforcement met the two charter buses near State Route 38 on the eastern side of Richmond County on Interstate 74 and led them to U.S. Route 1. At 9:53 a.m. Sunday, sheriff’s deputies led the two charter buses past Hardees, Waffle House and as they approached Mill Road, a hastily organized fan section in a roadside parking lot, with cameras in one hand and a friendly wave in the other.

John Tyson is now the choral director at Richmond Senior High School and served as accompanist to RMS choral director Lauren Lutz, who took over for Tyson in January. Tyson said the performance helps to bring about “changing the culture (and) making choral music in Richmond County a big deal.”

As the convoy approached Highway Business 74 and South Hancock Street, Rockingham Police Department officers stopped traffic to let the champions proceed uninterrupted to Rockingham Middle School. There, parents waited for their award-winning children.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Richmond County Sheriff's Office deputies escort two charter buses carrying the Rockingham Middle School Choir off Interstate 74 onto U.S. Route 1 near Waffle House Sunday morning in Rockingham.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Richmond County Sheriff’s Office deputies escort two charter buses carrying the Rockingham Middle School Choir off Interstate 74 onto U.S. Route 1 near Waffle House Sunday morning in Rockingham.

The chorus competed against three other schools. Lutz said after the students’ performance of three numbers — “Siyahamba,” “Shoshone Love Song” and “The Battle of Jericho” — one of the three judges on the panel, all collegiate music education instructors, joined the students on stage for a planned 10-minute review. The judge was complimentary but, as judges often do, focused on areas of improvement. Lutz said this judge honed in on the group’s dynamics; how and when to go from soft to loud.

“I know we had done really well,” Lutz said. “I was expecting a ‘Superior’ (rating). I knew the kids had done … the best they possibly could.”

But the judge’s critique was tough.

“The kids took his comments hard,” Lutz said.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Awards night was Saturday inside an amphitheater, a former stunt set, at Hollywood Studios. Lutz was handed a briefcase and she happened to take a peek inside. The Rockets had earned a score of 95 out of a possible 100.

“I was just thrilled,” Lutz said.

The students still didn’t know. When the Rockets were called, Lutz said they “leapt to their feet immediately” in shock and celebration, with nearly two dozen parents in support.

‘It was an adventure’

The trip to Florida didn’t start out very well. Only 90 minutes into 515-mile trip, one of the two Stinson Allstate buses broke down. There they were, said RMS choral director Lauren Lutz, on Interstate 95 in Florence, S.C. It was 11:30 p.m. They were stranded.

Fortunately, they were only a mile from a good-natured Holiday Inn Express. Staff there let the more than 100 unexpected guests — students, chaperones and staff — sleep on the conference room floor while a replacement bus was found. Lutz directed the first bus to a truck stop, then the hotel. Then the only bus that was working went back to collect the other 45-plus students and chaperones.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

“It was an adventure,” said Chris Kubiak, one of the parent chaperones.

Lutz, though, said the students behaved like model citizens throughout the ordeal. And it got worse. The group spent all of Thursday in the Magic Kingdom — no problems there — and Friday’s preparation for the evening competition went on without incident.

On Saturday, though, the group want to Epcot — and endured an epic rainstorm that forced them out of the park. They were already checked out of their hotel. Finding and changing into dry clothing wasn’t the easiest thing to do.

 * * * 

Directed by Lauren Lutz and accompanied by John Tyson, there are 260 members of the Rockingham Middle School Choir. The choir earned four “Superior” ratings on March 20 at the North Carolina Music Performance Adjudication at Jack Britt High School.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Those who competed at Festival Disney include:

Abbie Terry, Adison Tetreault, Aerial Spooner, Alex Branch, Alison Padron, Alyson Walton, Ashley McGuire, Ava Poole,

Ben Helms, Bobby Terry, Brett Young, Brice Billingsley,

Caleb Brewer, Cameron Carraway, Cameron Ray, Camryn Odom, Carleigh Wilson, Carley Lambeth, Carly Batson, Caroline Freeman, Caroline Walker, Chandler Sinclair, Chasity Davis, Chloe McLaughlin, Cole Deane,

Denisha Kelly, Destiny Rush, Drew Davis,

Elijah Sanders, Emily Faw, Emily Parsons, Emma Russell,

Faith Baxley,

Gabby Paone, Garet Weigman, Gracie Allen,

Submitted photo Rockingham Middle School Choir members pose with their trophies at Festival Disney.

Submitted photo
Rockingham Middle School Choir members pose with their trophies at Festival Disney.

Hailey Miller, Heath Rhyne, Hunter Parris,

Jadyn Johnson, Jaikyla Dumas, Jake Davis, Jake Ransom, Jan’Nice Conrad, Jarod McGee, Javon Little, Jenna Hogan, Jenna Kubiak, Jessie Mattheson, Jessi Graham, Jordyn Morse, Joshua Rodgers, Julianna Chapman, Julianna Young, Justin Morman,

Kaili Sweatt, Kaitlyn Skipper, Katelyn Walker, Kayla Howell, Kalynn Leviner, Kelsey Sheffield, Kevin Aiken, Kierra Deberry, Koriya Thao, Kristian Terry, Kylie Howell, Kylie McDonald,

Lahya Allen, Laila Wall, Latavis Davis, Lauren Humann, Lydia Young, Madison Jordan,

Makaila Artis, Makaylan Nichols, Makenzie Taylor, Marilyn McLean, Megan Coble, Meagan McGuire, Molly Meachum,

Natalie Davis, Natalie Williams, Noah Jordan, Nolan Allen,

Peyton Harrelson,

a_2Ralayah McRae,

Serenity Sturdivant, Sierra Ramsay, Sophia Perakis,

Taliah Wall, Treshawn Robinson, Trevor Whittington, Tyler Bass,

Will Bostick and

Zion Nelson.

 

Filed in: Arts & Entertainment, Education, Featured News, Latest Headlines, News, Rockingham

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