Grove City is known for its marching- band programs, but another school musical tradition may be a bit unsung.

"We have some strong show-choir programs in Grove City, not only at the high school level but at two of our middle schools," said Ann Johnson, Grove City High School vocal music teacher. "I don't think that's well-known in the community."

Grove City High School hosted the 27th annual Voices in the Grove competition Feb. 23, featuring 17 show choirs competing in four divisions (middle school, unisex, mixed-group small and mixed-group large.)

"It's always fun to see what each group is going to do for their competition show," Johnson said.

A show choir differs greatly from a traditional school choir, she said.

"It's probably not like what you think of when you hear the word choir," Johnson said. "It's not a bunch of people standing together and singing."

Instead, a show-choir performance combines choral singing and dancing with a tech crew and instrumental backing, she said.

"A show choir is as much athletic as it is musical," said Brandon Moss, a Central Crossing High School vocal music teacher.

Executing a performance is not much different from a sports team running a play, Johnson said.

"It involves a lot of teamwork, with everyone working together as a unit and doing their part," she said.

Students can get a lot of the same benefits from show choir as they do participating in sports, Johnson said.

Along with the fitness aspect, show choir also helps instill the values of teamwork, personal responsibility and perseverance, she said.

"Those are things that are going to help you in school and later in life," Johnson said.

The mix of singing with dancing makes show choir particularly challenging, Moss said.

"Most students who join show choir don't have a lot of dancing proficiency," he said. "So they really are concentrating on getting those dance moves down and the singing side can get lost a bit. Sometimes we end up having to reteach the music."

Central Crossing's show choir, Excelsior, has concentrated mostly on non-competitive performances in recent years but signed up for Voices in the Grove after Johnson asked the school to participate, Moss said.

"We're just getting back into competitions with Voices in the Grove," he said. "We have a really good group of students this year, so the timing seemed to be right."

Excelsior will hold its spring cabaret concert May 10.

Grove City has two show choirs. A Touch of Class features both male and female performances, and Class Act is a girls-only choir.

"The two middle schools that feed into our high school -- Jackson and Brookpark -- each have a show choir, so we always have a lot of interest in our program," Johnson said. "It's nice because the students already have the basics of show choir down."

Grove City's show choirs participated in several competitions in January and February.

Touch of Class placed as third runner-up Feb. 9 at the Loveland Show Choir Invitational. The group was first runner-up and Class Act was third runner-up Jan. 26 at the Findlay Festival Competition. Class Act was named grand champion in the unisex division and Touch of Class won the Class A competition Jan. 12 at the Beavercreek Midwest Show Choir Classic. Touch of Class finished in second place overall and Class Act received a fourth place award.

As the host choirs, both groups gave exhibition performances and did not compete at the Feb. 23 event.

"It takes some of the pressure off, just to perform to entertain the audience," Johnson said.

Junior Tessa Mullins said she was inspired to join Class Act by watching her older sister perform with the group.

"It just seemed like a lot of fun and a good way to use up some excess energy," she said. "It's more fun than just sitting and singing like you do in a regular choir."

One of the most satisfying aspects of show choir is being part of a team, Mullins said.

As with sports, "you get to experience working together as a unit to accomplish a goal."

Sophomore Kiley Hardyman is a show-choir veteran, having participated in the program at Jackson Middle School.

"I like being able to sing and have it mean something more than just singing around the house or for fun," she said.

While she participates in both show choirs. she said she enjoys Class Act a bit more.

"It's a fun challenge because even though it's all girls, you're still trying to represent all the parts that the guys would take in a mixed choir."