Award-winning Cloud 9 set to perform May 14

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Mark your calendar for Cloud 9's performance at this year's Clayton Ridge Swing Show on Tuesday, May 14, at 6 p.m. at the Clayton Ridge High School gymnasium. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

On March 16, Cloud 9, Clayton Ridge High School's successful show choir, earned a first place rating in Class 1A at the West Delaware Red Carpet Gala held at the West Delaware High School Hanson Auditorium in Manchester. 

In addition to top honors, Clayton Ridge Junior and Cloud 9 member  Lilly Meana was awarded Best Female Soloist of the contest. The rating also qualified Cloud 9 to participate in the final round as one of the top three competitors earning a third place overall. 

"We haven't made the finals in a while, so we were really excited," said Adam Radcliffe, Clayton Ridge 6-12 Vocal Music teacher and Athletic Director. 

Mark your calendar

Cloud 9 will be performing at this year's Clayton Ridge Swing Show on Tuesday, May 14, at 6 p.m. at Clayton Ridge High School.

Cloud 9 visionary

Radcliffe, who is the inspiration behind and leader of the ambitious vocal group, has been a staff member at Clayton Ridge for the past 16 years. "I was a chaperone on the Florida class trip in 2012, and pitched the idea to start a show choir to the principal at that time," he remembered. "He was concerned about cost, and I told him I would be as economical as possible." 

Cloud 9 members meet during school hours every other day, taking over the spot that used to be reserved for Chamber Choir. Radcliffe uses three different time frames to make sure everyone gets an opportunity to eat lunch – working with the female vocalists first, boys second and everyone together in the third time slot. 

In-house choreography

Many larger school districts hire professional choreographers to create movement and dance to accompany the musical selections, and purchase high-end costumes. The Clayton Ridge music department relies on financial assistance from the school, music boosters and benefactors, such as Merlin H. Geuder, who bequeathed money towards the band and vocal department.

"We don't have as large of a budget as some of the large schools for costumes and choreography, but we do have very talented drill team members that are part of the group and help us put together our choreography, and we try to reuse costumes to keep the cost down," explained Radcliffe. "I am always seeking out choreography and music online also. I know my students' capabilities so I can change things as needed."

Hard work and dedication

An audition will get you a spot on the roster, but hard work and dedication are needed to remain there. "The performances are graded as well," Radcliffe noted. "It is a big commitment, and involves some weekend performances."

This year's 36 members, which includes ten boys, enjoy being part of the fun, successful vocal group. 

"I enjoyed watching past performances and wanted to be part of a successful group," said senior Kaci Kregel. 

Brooke Hansel added, "Kaci and I were in TAG together in middle school and our teacher at the time would come and help out with the group and bring us along. It was really fun to watch them perform." 

"My older sister was a member of this group and I wanted to follow in her footsteps. It is also something different to participate in during the school day," commented Morgan Pierce. 

The students are grateful for the show choir drummer, Mason, who is a senior this year. "He has been drumming since the eighth grade and is really talented," they pointed out. 

"It's fun to perform in front of others. I like the social aspect too. We get to travel to different schools and meet other students," Kaci noted.  

"It sounded like a fun experience with all the upper classmen,"  said Christopher Gebhardt. 

"My brother was a show choir member and I saw many of the performances and decided to try out," said junior Randy Sarazua. "I am always pretty shy when I try something new. I get to express myself and have gained a lot of self-confidence as part of this vocal group. It's nice not to have to sit at a desk all day either."

Creating memories

Once show choir members arrive at a competition they are escorted to their own decorated room. A typical competition lasts about 8-12 hours, so there is time when the students are not performing. Radcliffe encourages them to watch other performances and socialize with other student vocalists.

This year's Cloud 9 theme was the Nineties, and the group has enjoyed the music and the choreography from this era. Radcliffe accompanies the group on a keyboard to create different sounds that add to the show's appeal. He admits the hardest part is picking out music that the group will practice and listen to for an entire school year.

High school memories

Creating memories with fellow show choir members, such as a recent blunder involving their first place trophy was at the top of the students' best-ever list. "Chris and I were the last ones to board the bus after our recent competition," recalled Randy. "I saw the trophy and grabbed it and held it above my head. I ran to the back of the bus to my seat and tripped on the way and busted the top section of the trophy off. I was shocked and really nervous that I was going to get in trouble, but glad when everyone started to laugh."

Brooke and Morgan told The Press, "The most fun is being able to compete and put on a show, and be able to express yourself, and sing popular songs."

Proud of students

"I really enjoy getting to see the students excel on stage and perform for audiences!" Radcliffe said with gratitude. "It is the best part of my job to see my students feel success ful, especially at something they put a lot of time into! I will greatly miss this group of students, but know the future is bright for Clayton Ridge music!

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