Swingers Unlimited, the Marysville High School show choir, is returning from Nashville after getting its shot to perform on stage at the Grand Ole Opry House.
The group competed at Show Choir Nationals against 10 other teams from around the country.
Pam Klaus, Marysville Choral Boosters president, said the students boarded buses at 6:30 a.m. Thursday, April 4, and were the first to compete that night, after a long, eight-hour trip.
The choir is expected back in Marysville tonight, April 7.
Eighty students are involved in the show choir, 52 of whom are singer-dancers. The rest are crew and band members.
Klaus said this was an optional trip so a few students were not going, including one singer-dancer.
Senior member Jenna Hartmann said this is her first year with the show choir but she is having a blast.
"I love it. It's so much fun," she said. "You make so many good friends. Hopefully, we'll do well. I'll just be happy when we get to finals."
Getting to finals is familiar for the Swingers.
"This year we came home with two grand champions, two second places -- or as they call them in the show choir world -- first runner-up, and one third place," Klaus said.
In the last 10 years, the MHS show choir has brought home 21 grand champion prizes. Choral director Katie Paulson joined the program in 2002, as did Jeremy Alfera, who handles choreography.
Klaus said Alfera is well-known throughout the country and works with other choirs on choreography. However, after the school district's levy failed in November, it was announced his position would be one of more than 40 that would be eliminated.
It was devastating news to the show choir community, Klaus said.
"We had choirs from all over the country sending cards and support," she said. "A choir down in Alabama sent a song to us on YouTube.com telling the students they were thinking of them."
The out-of-pocket cost of the program is expensive for participants at $850 per student. But Klaus said no child should avoid tryouts because of money issues. The boosters give out two scholarships at the end of the year and there is a financial aid form online for potential students to complete, she said. "There is no reason anyone should not try out," Klaus said.
The Nashville trip was funded by the choir members themselves as well as through some fundraising efforts.
"The choral boosters raise money all year round for things like this," Klaus said.
She has two children in the show choir: son Erik is a senior and daughter Sara Jane is a freshman.
Klaus sums up the experience in one word -- "expensive" -- but said she enjoys watching her children grow through the progress.
Students begin learning routines at a camp in August and continue practices twice a week until competition starts in January.
Hartmann said knowing the reputation of the program, she was really scared about how tough practices would be. "It is a lot of work. But they're actually a lot of fun," she said.
Klaus said the future of the show choir program is "clear as mud" since Alfera is scheduled to leave after this school year.
"Jeremy is nationally known. He's going to be fine no matter what," she said. "He has worked with show choirs from all over the place and if he decides to do that, I would like to see Marysville be on his client list. It depends on what he decides to take and what path Marysville takes (on the May levy)," Klaus said.