Talent transcends distance: Zoomchella talent show brings community together

Members+of+the+Student+Council+Student+Events+Committee+introduce+the+upper+school+community+to+Zoomcella%2C+kicking+off+the+performances.+%E2%80%9CEspecially+for+freshmen+who+don%27t+know+everyone+around+campus+very+much%2C+I+think+it+was+a+good+way+to+introduce+the+diversity+of+the+talents+in+our+community%2C%E2%80%9D+Student+Events+Committee+co-head+Yejin+Song+%2811%29+said.

Emily Tan

Members of the Student Council Student Events Committee introduce the upper school community to Zoomcella, kicking off the performances. “Especially for freshmen who don’t know everyone around campus very much, I think it was a good way to introduce the diversity of the talents in our community,” Student Events Committee co-head Yejin Song (11) said.

by Emily Tan, Winged Post Features Editor

One-by-one, students jumped into their advisors’ Zoom rooms on Tuesday Nov. 10 to experience this year’s virtual talent show, Zoomchella. As advisories began viewing, the members of the Student Council’s Student Events Committee popped onto the screen in a lively introduction video to the event. Waving to the audience, they kicked off the acts with one final “enjoy the show!”

This year, the Student Events Committee compiled student and teacher recordings of performances into a YouTube playlist of 12 acts. Even without the energy of an in-person show, performers and audience members alike appreciated the opportunity to experience others’ talents. 

“When you get down to it, I think the most important part of performance [is] just being able to share who you are with others,” said Wilson Zhang (12), who played the etude “Tiento Antiguo” by Joaquin Rodrigo on the guitar. “Seeing other people enjoy that as well as [experiencing it] myself was really refreshing.”

English teacher Christopher Hurshman and upper school Director of Learning, Innovation and Design Diane Main put a spin on their annual guitar and vocal performance by adding in a skit inspired by the quick cuts of TikTok videos. Hurshman and Main jokingly tried out a variety of instruments including the ukulele, harpsichord, mandolin and balalaika. They finished off their act with their cover of “Hey There Delilah” by the Plain White T’s featuring Main’s singing and Hurshman’s guitar-playing. 

The beauty of Zoomchella, this being in a virtual environment, is that you can put special effects in and do things that you can’t normally do in Quadchella. Everyone was so unique [and] it was all just really amazing to watch.”

— Yejin Song (11)

“It’s a much more united and communal event when everybody’s in the same place, but it’s a lot easier not to feel nervous when you’re recording,” Hurshman said. “It’s not ideal, but it’s better to try something than do nothing. [Zoomchella] represents a symbolic commitment to the community even when things are difficult and they don’t feel as natural as they did before.”

Since the event was online this year, students had the opportunity to display talents rarely seen in conventional talent shows. Sophomore Ashley Ruan presented her figure skating in a routine she prepared last winter for this past summer’s competition season. In a video recorded by her coach, Ashley skates to a song from the Chinese historical drama Nirvana in Fire. As her in-person competitions were canceled, she found Zoomchella to be an opportunity to perform her program for an audience. 

“I felt very appreciated because when people were watching it in advisory, they were texting me very positive messages,” Ashley said. “My self-confidence isn’t super high, but when people were telling me, ‘you look so good!’ I actually felt good, and I haven’t really felt that way about my skating in a while.”

Discussions within the Student Events Committee about the coordination of Zoomchella began at the beginning of the school year, and work for preparations intensified three weeks before its show date. According to Student Events Committee co-head Yejin Song (11), Zoomchella strived to showcase the talents of students and faculty, as well as strengthen the sense of community in a time of isolation. 

“Especially for freshmen who don’t know everyone around campus very much, I think it was a good way to introduce the diversity of the talents in our community,” Yejin said. “The beauty of Zoomchella, this being in a virtual environment, is that you can put special effects in and do things that you can’t normally do in Quadchella. Everyone was so unique, [and] it was all just really amazing to watch.