River View boys octet performs at the Schott

| April 3, 2017

Photo at SchottCOSHOCTON – What started as a senior project for River View students Michael Belt and Jadyn Cline has turned into a project much bigger than they ever expected, which eventually led them and six other River View High School boys to sing the National Anthem at The Schottenstein Center.

Originally, the two boys wanted to form a quartet as their senior project and sing around the community in nursing homes and assisted living facilities to brighten people’s day. However, after choosing Charles Snyder as their mentor and director of the group, Snyder suggested to them that a quartet might not be big enough. Belt and Cline recruited Daniel Cullison and DJ Esselburn to complete their quartet but then added four others to form The Octafellas octet, a group of eight musicians including the original four along with Ryan Gildow, Everett Hall, Raynor Shoemaker, and Mikey Border.

“It was really awesome to get to work with eight of my favorite people,” said Snyder. “They’re real spark plugs in other groups and to have them in this group was a no-brainer to me.”

Music plays an active part in each of the boys’ lives. All eight are members of the Youth Chorale, also under the direction of Snyder, and rehearse together for 45 minutes after Youth Chorale rehearsals every Tuesday at the Presbyterian Church.

“When I walk through the doors of the Presbyterian Church, no matter what I’m going through that day, it all just disappears,” said Cline. “I get to sing with my best friends and work with Mr. Snyder.”

Two members sing in the Community Choir, four sing in Moving Spirit, four sing in the Cardinal Chorale, and seven are members of the River View High School Marching Band. Cline also sang in the prestigious American Boy Choir.

“Even on other days when we don’t rehearse, I sit and play the piano or put on a song, and I always expect to come out happy,” said Belt.

Locally, the group has sung the National Anthem at a River View Boys Basketball game, the first River View tournament game, and at staff meetings.

“When they sang at staff meetings, I’ve had several teachers come up to me and say that was the best way to start out their day,” said Cindy Hemming, senior project coordinator. “After they sang at the Rosecrans and River View game, the Rosecrans basketball coach said that was the best version of the National Anthem he has ever heard.”

Hemming was the one who approached River View Athletic Director Rod Lindsay about having the boys sing at the tournament at River View. Lindsay agreed and after hearing them, he told Hemming that he had seen the Ohio High School Athletic Association was looking for people to sing the National Anthem during state tournaments. After contacting them and receiving open dates, they decided to perform on March 18 at the Division IV girls’ state tournament, Hiland vs. Waterford at the Schottenstein Center.

“For me, it was amazing because growing up, I used to watch Ohio State basketball and football, but I’ve never been to the Schottenstein,” said Gildow. “For me, it was amazing and the crowd was awesome!”

Gildow wasn’t the only one who was amazed by their presence at the Schottenstein. After their performance, OhioSportsTicket.com Tweeted, “Props to the River View Black Bears Octet who nailed the National Anthem at today’s Division IV State Final.” Later, after finding out the octet was their senior project, OhioSportsTicket.com said, “We give them a resounding A+!”

Only two of the six seniors in the group are required to do the senior project as part of their College Prep English course. The project must encompass 50 hours with a 20 minute presentation. There are only 16 seniors at River View who are required to do a senior project, but a total of 49 seniors are doing a project, which Hemming said will look good on a college resume. The project must better themselves, the school, or the community.

“I have enjoyed working with them (the Octafellas),” said Hemming. “They’re just a great group of guys.”

After the end of their senior project, all members hope to continue making music in some aspect of their lives.

“It’s a release valve,” said Border. “It’s a pressure relief at the end of a long school day.”

Esselburn said he enjoys making music because it stirs up emotion in other people.

“The ability to make music is a beautiful thing in and of itself,” he said. “Whenever people listen to music, it evokes certain emotions in them. You can take the toughest guy and put him in front of an orchestra, and that music will evoke emotions in him. That’s what music is all about.”

The Octafellas are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Category: Education

About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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