Sound of Music: Lawrence Central show choirs earn their place at state finals


Seven months of practice paid off for Lawrence Central’s two show choirs, The Sweets and Central Sound. Both groups were finalists in the March 18 Indiana State School Music Association show choir competition.

Only nine schools in each category make it that far, said Kayla Smith, who directs the choirs along with Milo Ellis. The Sweets is the school’s univoice group — girls and female-presenting students — and Central Sound is mixed genders. Both groups placed eighth in their divisions.

“The win really was getting to state,” said Smith said, adding that it had been a few years since the school’s groups made it that far.

Lawrence Central’s band, the Sweet Sound, accompanied both performances. They won Best Student Instrumental at the state finals for large mixed-group performances. There are about 20 students in the band, 38 students in the Sweets and 48 in Central Sound.

A handful of the student performers gathered following the finals to talk about the experience. Senior Alicia Barnes agreed that getting to state was winning for all of them.

“It was a good time where all of us were able to have fun and laugh together,” she said, noting that they didn’t sacrifice their authenticity.

Senior Brynna Harriman said authenticity was demonstrated by their connection with each other on stage, and “each person was able to stand out and have their own sparkle.”

Junior Eduardo Palapa said the group members connected particularly well this year. A slang word they used a lot was “meep,” which he defined.

“When I’m using it in this context, it sums up our entire group in the sense of us all being cutesy and also grateful in how much we care for each other,” he said.

Lawrence Central Sweets is the school’s univoice show choir. (Photos courtesy of Lawrence Central High School)

The Sweets’ performance was based on the movie “Space Jam,” Smith said. They had basketball choreography, and the songs included “Fly Like and Eagle,” “Unstoppable,” “Pump Up the Jam,” “Space Jam” and “Champion.”

Central Sound’s set was based on summer in the city, she said. They sang “Another Hundred People,” “City Lights,” “Summer in the City,” “A Thousand Miles,” “In Da Club,” “Stayin’ Alive,” “Paradise City” and “On the Floor.”

Smith said both choirs’ sets this season were fun.

“We often do shows that are super meaningful,” she said, “This year, the kids were just like ‘we want to have a good time.’”

Alicia said this year’s show was still meaningful, but it’s good to show versatility as a choir.

“We are still serious and sophisticated, but can be silly once in a while,” she said.

Smith added that the students have been improving steadily throughout the year, and both choirs’ performances at state were their best efforts of the season. She said the students start rehearsing shows in August. They practice the sets throughout the school year, with a few short breaks for their winter holiday shows and other special performances.

Smith said she and co-director Milo Ellis make sure students have a say in what the theme will be each year.

“That’s something that we take pride in, is making sure the shows that we choose are representing the children in the room,” she said. “It’s part of their growth and their learning. We take a lot of their thoughts and feelings into account. This year it was very lighthearted, very fun for both shows.”

Central Sound
Lawrence Central’s Central Sound is the mixed gender show choir.

Senior Sam Greenfield said he appreciates the opportunity to have a voice in the show choir theme.

“It’s cool that we all worked together to build the show. It molds into who we are throughout the season,” he said. “Having directors help us really make the show ours instead of learn and do like robots is really cool.”

The school’s 2019 Central Sound performance, which Smith said they are most known for, was based on Black Lives Matter. A video of the performance can be found on YouTube by searching for Central Sound 2019.

There was a break in momentum soon after, because of the pandemic. Senior Anna Seitz said March 18 was her first experience going to state because of COVID-19, and then building the program back up.

“I realized when we got off the stage that, ‘Oh, my gosh, we’re good, and winning was being at state,’” she said. “I’m excited to leave and see where this group goes. As seniors, we’ve built this community. We could be a winning show choir in future years and that’s exciting to see.”

Now that show choir has wrapped up its season, the next challenge for many of the young performers is the upcoming spring musical, “Mamma Mia!,” which opens April 21.

Indiana State School Music Association show choir finals results

The ISSMA show choir finals on March 18 were held at Pike High School in Indianapolis.

According to the ISSMA website, the univoice winners for large division schools — those with 1,500 students or more — were:

  • First place: Fishers Sound
  • Second place: Franklin Central High Voltage
  • Third Place: Avon Attraction
  • Fourth Place: Brownsburg Starlight Voices
  • Finalists: Castle Nightingales of Newburgh, Decatur Central Expressions, Lawrence Central Sweets, North Central Descants, and the Plainfield Femmes Fatales
  • Best vocals and visual: Fishers Sound
  • Best instrumental group: Franklin Central High Voltage

The mixed-group winners for large division schools were:

  • First place: Franklin Central FC Singers
  • Second place: Avon Accents
  • Third place: Plainfield Belles et Beaux
  • Fourth place: Fishers Electrum
  • Finalists: Brownsburg Spotlight Singers and Company, Castle Knight Sensations of Newburgh, Lafayette Jefferson The First Edition, Lawrence Central The Central Sound, and North Central Counterpoints
  • Best vocals and visual: Franklin Central FC Singers
  • Best Instrumental group: Lawrence Central The Central Sound