Five Singers. One Idol.

Written by: Michael Wang and Benjamin Friedrich

(Picture Taken by Benjamin Friedrich)

It’s that time of the year again. The legendary singing competition Wheatley Idol, produced by the Tri-M honor society, returned on the 7th of November, marking the 17th year of this Wheatley tradition. 

For those unfamiliar with the layout of Wheatley Idol, the competition runs through three main rounds: the preliminary round of auditions, the main competition, and the final round. 

For the main competition, this year’s judges, Mr. Schwalm (science teacher), Mr. Plana (science teacher), and Mrs. Ambrose (math teacher), were tasked with the second-round eliminations, sending three of the five contestants to the final round. Then for the last round, the selected contestants would each sing another song. After this, the crowd would vote, choosing their Wheatley Idol. After announcing the winner, they return to the stage for a final encore performance. 

To start the night, Tri-M Co-President Faith Joshua introduced all five contestants: Pavithra Eswar, Arielle Kruger, Ava Duloss, Hailey Lessen, and William Sellerberg.

First up was Pavithra Eswar who sang Never Enough by Loren Allred, from the hit movie: The Greatest Showman. Second was Arielle Kruger. She sang What a Catch, Donnie by Fallout Boy. Her singing along with her guitar playing elicited a bona fide reaction from Mr. Plana, in which he shared a personal anecdote about how his tank broke down amidst World War II. Next came the only senior competing this year, Hailey Lessen. Hailey sang Yours by Conan Gray. Then came Ava Doulos, who sang the popular song A Thousand Miles by Vanessa Carlton. Last but not least, was Will Sellerberg. He sang Sway by Michael Buble. This throwback song was certainly a crowd-pleaser, even managing to get Dr. Klapper and Mr. Wilson to perform a little cha-cha. 

From the five contestants, Pavithra Eswar, Arielle Kruger, and Will Sellerberg were selected by the judges to proceed to the final round. For their deciding performances, Pavithra Eswar showed off her extensive vocal range, singing Don’t You Worry About a Thing by Tori Kelly. Will Sellerberg put on a beige sweater before singing Sweater Weather, a song that peaked at number one on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart in 2013.Arielle Kruger sang Just a Girl by No Doubt. Arielle incorporated lots of movement alongside her singing, expressing immense emotion during the delivery of the song. Following these epic performances, it was time for the audience to decide the 2022 Wheatley Idol winner. After the votes were tallied, the winner was announced: Will Sellerberg! To conclude this night Will Sellerberg sang his heart out with an encore performance. What an epic ending to the 17th annual Wheatley Idol!

Behind the Scenes:

Wheatley Idol has been one of the oldest Wheatley traditions. But, have you ever wondered what it’s like behind the scenes? Each year, a talented group of students demonstrates their leadership and management skills to prepare the school for Wheatley Idol. Through grueling rehearsals, hours of planning, and tedious decorations, the Tri-M Music Honor Society organizes a talented group of singers and a consistently successful event that is able to bring the East Williston community together for a night of entertainment.

Do you remember the large poster hung outside the auditorium that you quickly glanced up at, thinking, “is that new?” Tri-M’s decorations committee creates hand-made posters every year over the span of over two weeks to promote and share information about Wheatley Idol. The decorations don’t stop here, though. At 2:26 on the day of Wheatley Idol, all hands are on deck. Time is ticking, and decorations need to be up! From streamers, balloons, and ribbons, to more posters and paint, everyone rushes to decorate the auditorium- and it needs to be done fast. By 6:30, Wheatley’s auditorium has gone through a makeover – just in time as the audience begins to arrive. 

Next is the ticketing committee. With a beautifully designed blue ticket with white accents, the audience receives real physical tickets for admission to the show. Not everything is better digital! Members of Tri-M volunteer to spend their precious free periods selling tickets pre-sale throughout the week prior to Wheatley Idol, selling for $8 each. On the night of the show, tickets are sold at the door for 10$ each. This tied into how Wheatley’s Idol was decided, as votes were collected from the audience by writing down the contestant’s name on the back of the ticket. With 120+ tickets sold, Tri-M board members rush to the orchestra room after collection to count the tickets one by one. We have a winner!

Preparation for the event starts early. Over a month prior to Wheatley Idol, plans are made for auditions, promotions, and committee work to ensure that the event runs smoothly. Tri-M Co-Presidents Garima Jain and Faith Joshua, both seniors, send out numerous emails informing the school of important dates and information. After the contestants are decided, rehearsals swiftly begin. All five contestants prepare multiple songs and sing their hearts out as the stage crew and the video committee arrange lights, sound, microphones, and more. After each performance, Tri-M advisors Dr. Ho and Mr. Wilson, along with Garima and Faith, provide each contestant with advice on how to give their all. As rehearsals go on, the contestants inch closer and closer to perfection as they learn more about themselves and their performance skills. 

 Here’s a short interview from Tri-M Co-Presidents Garima and Faith:

Q: What was the preparation like for Wheatley Idol?

Garima: The prep for Wheatley Idol while chaotic was fun and an amazing learning experience. Not only did I get to work closer with members of Tri-M, but Wheatley Idol preparation also fostered new relationships with contestants. Rehearsals were long but all the while extremely exciting and I think the efforts put into this show by everyone really showed the night of the performance.

Q: What was the most rewarding part of Wheatley Idol?

Garima: The most rewarding part of Wheatley Idol was finally seeing the contestants up on stage singing their hearts out in front of an amazing and supportive audience. Seeing the final product and how much everyone progressed was a great joy and satisfaction.

Q: What was the hardest part of Wheatley Idol?

Faith: I think one of the hardest parts of Wheatley Idol was trying to get an audience and people to buy tickets to the show. In the beginning, we were scared that not many people were going to come because there were only 5 contestants and also it was a monday night. But it ended up coming together at the end and we had a really good turnout.

Q: What was the most rewarding part of Wheatley Idol?

Faith: I think one of the most rewarding parts of Wheatley idol was seeing the whole show come together after weeks and weeks of planning, from decorations to video/tech to the contestants. The show was a lot of fun and the contestants did amazing!

A long process with many obstacles, Wheatley Idol has once again been run by a talented group of Wheatley students. Through the efforts of  Tri-M’s board, committees, advisors, contestants, and of course, the audience, Wheatley has experienced yet again another successful Wheatley Idol!

Taken by Benjamin Friedrich

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