The Pop Experience returning to WTHS for seventh year

The Pop Experience 2020: You Decide will take place at Washington Township’s Investors Bank Performing Arts Center on Feb. 13 at 7 p.m.

Washington Township High School choir director Joe Zachowski (left) gives some pointers to the high school’s co-ed A Capella group, Dynamics, during a rehearsal last Wednesday. Dynamics will be one of a number of groups performing in The Pop Experience 2020: You Decide on Feb. 13 at Investors Bank Performing Arts Center.

Ever want to hear Rihanna, Led Zeppelin and Dolly Parton music in one concert? With Washington Township High School’s The Pop Experience 2020: You Decide, you’ll get that chance.

Hundreds of Washington Township choir singers will take the stage at the high school’s Investors Bank Performing Arts Center on Thursday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. for the seventh annual Pop Experience show. Final preparations are underway as singers from Washington Township High School as well as the district’s three middle schools put the finishing touches on their songs in this year’s show.

“When you think of a chorus concert, you think of classical music and you think ‘It may not be my style,'” said Kaila Parkin, a member of Dynamics, a co-ed A cappella group at the high school. “You think of kids in long black dresses with a piano. This is a way to get us to do different genres of music.”

Last Wednesday, the 13-member Dynamics group gathered in the high school’s choir room to rehearse one of their songs in the show, Ariana Grande’s “No Tears Left to Cry.” The rehearsal went beyond just singing, as the group worked on blocking and dance movements as well. The group worked with choir director Joe Zachowski, who many of the singers credited for making The Pop Experience a powerful show every year.

Washington Township High School choir director Joe Zachowski (left) gives some pointers to the high school’s co-ed A Capella group, Dynamics, during a rehearsal last Wednesday.

“It’s as if you’re going to a pop concert,” Dynamics member Madison Seagreaves said. “We have the lights, the sound system.

“We start practicing our songs in December after we finish our winter concert,” Seagreaves continued. “From that time on, we practice and work really hard to try and get our song done before the concert.”

Preparation for The Pop Experience starts even before December. Dynamics members Taylor Wise talked about how the high school’s singers are thinking ahead to the next show right after the previous year’s is performed.

“It also has been prepared since the day the last Pops concert ended,” Wise said. “We think of song ideas, we think of theme ideas, new ways we can improve, things we can do better. Preparation starts immediately after and we prepare all year for it.”

The theme of The Pop Experience 2020 is “You Decide.” Some of the performers in this year’s show said the theme is very relatable to high school students.

“We sometimes have a hard time making decisions or we get nervous making decisions,” Parkin said. “This theme is a way to encourage us to use this (message) in everyday life.”

“You’re deciding your future, what path you take, what decisions you’re going to make,” Seagreaves added. “It’s about deciding your path and where you’re going.”

The show also plans to support an organization dedicated to helping students who decided they want to attend a high-ranking college, but cannot afford to do so. Proceeds from this year’s Pop Experience show will go to QuestBridge, a nonprofit whose aim is to increase the percentage of low-income students in the country’s best colleges, according to its mission statement.

Taylor Wise of the Washington Township High School A capella group, Dynamics, performs during rehearsal last Wednesday.

“It helps us realize we sit next to people in class who we may not know struggle with the idea of college,” Parkin said. “They’re able to research and look up this charity that could help people all around us. It really helps us put ourselves in perspective and makes us want to work even harder.”

The Pop Experience 2020: You Decide will be performed on Feb. 13 beginning at 7 p.m. at the high school’s Investors Bank Performing Arts Center. Tickets are still available for $10 per person. They can be purchased at wthsnj.booktix.com.