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Two Sanibel high schoolers to compete in the International Championship of High School A Cappella Finals in NYC

By Staff | Apr 13, 2017

The students of TAG A Capella group will compete in New York City on April 21 at The Town Hall. PHOTO PROVIDED

Sanibel residents Mark Sheme and Isabella Sbarra, who are both Cypress Lake High School students, won first place in the ICHSA South Semifinals with their A Capella group, TAG on March 25 in Orlando.

The group, which placed first in the semifinals last year as well, will compete at The Town Hall in New York City April 21. TAG beat out eight other groups from Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida.

Sheme, who is a junior, said the win was unexpected.

“This is the first time in the south region in ICHSA history that one group won two years in a row,” Sheme said. “We never thought that we’d go back (to New York City) because it’s never happened before.”

Sheme said he is hoping to beat their fourth place finish last year and place in the top three when they return to New York City in April.

For the semifinals, TAG which is comprised of 21 students, performed “No Rights, No Wrongs,” “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and “The Words” during the semifinals. Kennedy Floethe was awarded Best Soloist for her rendition of “The Words.”

“As a TAG mom, I couldn’t be prouder of all the kids. They’re very talented and they work hard in school. There’s no riff raff, they love each other. They’re a solid group,” said Debbie Sheme, Mark’s mother.

Sheme said that when competing in the semifinals, the judges were looking for presentation, energy level, vocal quality and choreography. Each group had 12 minutes to perform three songs during the competition.

“Each song has to transition into each other so the whole goal is to put all your songs together so the choreography blends,” Sheme said.

TAG practices once a week on Mondays for about an hour and a half and they put on several shows throughout the season. The group is coached by Gary Stroh.

“Before competitions, we normally throw in one extra rehearsal. Before the semifinals, we rehearsed Friday right after school,” Sheme said.

Sheme thinks what contributed to their success this year is dedication.

“A lot of the stuff we have to do is at home. There’s only so much we can do at a two hour rehearsal. A lot of it is independent work in a sense,” Sheme said.

For their upcoming trip, TAG is looking to raise $16,000 which will cover all expenses. Those who donate $25 or more will receive TAG’s latest CD, “A Part of Me.” Those looking to donate to the group can go to crowdrise.com/tag-returns-to-new-york or they can send a check to Cypress Lake High School, 6750 Panther Lane Fort Myers, Florida 33919. The checks may be made out to “Parents of TAG.”

Those with questions can contact Debbie Sheme at (484) 459-3971.