Nickelberry, Van Alfen win individual top awards
Village News Reporter
Approximately 80 Sullivan Middle School music students participated in the Music in the Parks Festival May 6 at Universal Studios, and the advanced show choir captured the Overall Choral Sweepstakes award given for the highest score for all divisions while all three Sullivan groups received Superior Rating recognition.
Sullivan seventh-graders Tiffany Nickelberry and Jett Van Alfen won individual awards. Van Alfen, who accompanied the beginning show choir on the electric and acoustic guitar, won the Overall Junior High Accompanist award for the second consecutive year. The advanced show choir performed routines from various Mary Poppins movies; Nickelberry had the role of Mary Poppins and took home the Overall Junior High Vocalist award.
"I'm just glad to have our children back and studying music again in the classroom," said Sullivan music teacher Stacy Pecore.
Pecore has taught music at Sullivan since 1999. In February, the Bonsall Unified School District board approved an independent contractor agreement with Natalie Nucci, who has been a dance instructor at the North County Academy of Dance since 2011, for choreography services at Sullivan Middle School. Nucci collaborated with Pecore and the students at the Music in the Parks Festival as well as during rehearsals.
The students were from the three music classes Pecore teaches: guitar, beginning show choir and advanced show choir. "This year we've been really focusing on growth," she said.
When schools transitioned to remote learning after the coronavirus outbreak coordinated music practice became more difficult. The coronavirus shutdown also eliminated the Music in the Parks Festival for 2020 and 2021.
"I'm thrilled to be back after covid," Pecore said. "We were gone for two years."
Sullivan participated in the 2022 festival but with fewer numbers. "We didn't get our building blocks," Pecore said.
This year's music students entered the Music in the Parks Festival with more experience. "I'm just really excited to have all the kids back," Pecore said.
The beginning show choir competed in the Show I division and the advanced show choir was in the Show II competition. The show choir groups performed for between nine and 12 minutes. The guitar performers did not have a time constraint but were asked to play contrasting pieces.
The Show II group performed "Can You Imagine That," "Where the Lost Things Go," and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" from the Mary Poppins movies with Nickelberry singing Poppins' lyrics.
The Show I choir, with the accompaniment of Van Alfen, utilized "My Favorite Things" from "The Sound of Music," the classical ballad "If I Can Sing," and "Touch the Sky" from the movie "Brave" which featured seventh-grader Chellie Broadway as the vocalist.
The guitar ensemble performed "Hungarian Dance #5" by Johannes Brahms and "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" which was originally recorded by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Pecore explained that she and Nucci desired to provide the students with as many genres of music as possible. "We mixed those things up," she said.
Each group was rated, and all three Sullivan groups earned a Superior Rating for a score above 90 points. The Show I Choir was awarded 92.50 points. The guitar ensemble received 94.75 points.
"To rank in the 90th percentile is phenomenal," Pecore said. "To get 90th percentile was outstanding."
The Show II score of 95.50 points resulted not only in a Superior Rating but also in the Overall Choral Sweepstakes award for the highest score over all divisions. Ten middle schools and high schools performed at the Music in the Parks Festival. "It's quite a representation of how well they've got to score the highest points out of all the middle and high schools," Pecore said.