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We Are The Champions

Few things are as agonizing in modern life as waiting for news. The more exciting and important the news, the harder it is to wait ...

But by mid-afternoon April 26, the news was in and the waiting was over: The Sycamore High School Music Department won the state music competition for the first time in school history!

SHS placed first in the 2023 Illinois High School Association Music Sweepstakes competition for Class A schools.

Results were calculated from the results of the IHSA Solo/Ensemble festival on March 4, and the IHSA Organizational Festival on April 14-15 (for bands, choirs, and orchestras). A large number of highly rated student solos and ensembles, coupled with four “superior” scores (two vocal and two instrumental large ensemble scores) at the Organizational festival, led to Sycamore’s first place finish.

The Sycamore Orchestra program placed first in Class A for its Solo/Ensemble results, earning 177 points. Band and choir also had strong performances. Band won 6th place with 162 points, and choir won 8th place with 162 points.

Overall, SHS earned 801 points, compared with 795 for nemesis Chicago High School for the Arts, and 766.5 for third-place Ottawa Township. “Overall” means a combination of solo/ensemble performances and organizational entries.

The 2023 win marks the first IHSA state music title for Sycamore and ends a four-year winning streak for Chicago High School for the Arts.

“We had scored our highest-ever total of Solo/Ensemble points this year, so given the challenges that COVID had presented us, we were already looking at this year as a huge success,” said Scott Mertens, Sycamore music department chair. “As the Organizational results came in, we became aware that a first-place finish might be a possibility.”

Sycamore was the Class A runner-up in 2014, 2019 and 2021.

“The solos and small ensembles are very much student-directed, and the large groups rely on student focus, teamwork, and dedication to flourish,” Mertens said. “One of the best things about this state title is that it focuses attention on the amazing students we work with. We are incredibly proud of what these students have achieved, both this year and in the past. They are conscientious, focused, and task-oriented, and they are tremendous representatives for our city and our school.”

Retiring SHS principal Tim Carlson was also thrilled.

"We are extremely proud of our students and staff for finishing in first place in the state of Illinois in this very competitive competition," Carlson said. "This is a testament to their talents and hard work. We are also very fortunate to have such a supportive music community in Sycamore that assists our students and empowers them to compete at such a high level."

On behalf of the Sycamore Music Boosters, a most hearty congratulations to all music students, faculty and staff!

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