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RHHS trio make National Honor Choir
From left: Lexi Schieler, Mercy Mondt and Nikita Rodriguez of Richmond Hill High School have been chosen for the National Honor Choir. - photo by Ted O'Neil

Three Richmond Hill students have achieved not only state-wide recognition for their vocal talents, but have now have been recognized at the national level.

Mercy Mondt, Nikita Rodriguez and Lexi Schieler have been selected for the National Honor Choir by the National Association for Music Education.

Mondt and Rodriguez are juniors, while Schieler is a sophomore.

Their teacher, Jamie Hillen, explains the process this way: “To be eligible to audition at the national level, you have to be selected for your all-state choir,” he said. “In Georgia, about 6,000 students audition each year and 200 are selected.”

Hillen said he doesn’t know how many students across the country try out for the national recognition, but only 281 are chosen. Richmond Hill has nine students in the all-state choir, and of those six auditioned for the National Honor Chorus.

“It’s intense competition,” he said. “This is the best of the best.”

To audition for the national honor, each participant had to submit a video of themselves singing their particular part of an a cappella (without instruments) song titled “Sing We at Pleasure.” Rodriguez and Schieler, for example, are both alto 1, while Mondt is a soprano 1.

“It was definitely less nerve-wracking than trying out for the all-state choir because you didn’t know who your competition was,” Mondt said.

Schieler felt a little differently.

“When you audition live you just do it in one take and get it over with,” she said. “With a video tape, you want to keep redoing it over and over.”

All three have been involved with chorus and or music for a number of years. Schieler plays flute and is learning piano, and Rodriguez plays piano while Mondt plays trumpet and French horn.

All three say they want to include performing arts of some sort in their future plans. Mondt said she’d like to be involved in musical theater, while Schieler said she wants to be a music teacher of some sort.

When asked about a professional career due to the success of shows such as “The Voice” and “America’s Got Talent,” Rodriguez smiled. “I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t somewhere in the back of my mind.”

The trio and their families will be at Disney World Nov. 26-29, along with students chosen for the national concert band, symphony orchestra and jazz ensemble.

“They bring in some world-class conductors to work with the kids and rehearse, and then they all put on concerts,” Hillen said. 

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