Unplugged, students tune in to Akustikoff


Photo by Anamaria Sayre

Juniors Noelle McHenry and Cali Watkins perform at Akustikoff in Heritage Park on Dec. 4.

Enter the room shrouded in darkness and your eyes immediately jump to two girls center stage, the beautiful resounding sounds coming from their guitars and their voices captivating an entire audience.

Such is the scene juniors Cali Watkins and Noelle McHenry presented Friday night as they performed at the Heritage Community Center in the district-wide acoustic competition, “Akustikoff.”

Watkins and McHenry were the only two Woodbridge students to perform at the event, vying for a $1,000 recording deal, which Northwood group, the Wingdings, ended up getting, while Watkins and McHenry still won crowd’s choice.

After hours of preparation, the girls got up there and gave it their all.

“It was super nerve-wracking getting on stage after the event had been hyped up all week,” Watkins said, “but the fact that our friends and family were there rooting for us made everything so worth it.”

The competition itself offers students the opportunity to express themselves and showcase their talents, all while competing for a prize. The experience gives high school students all across Irvine an opportunity to perform in an exciting atmosphere.

“It was really cool to just be able to get up there and perform for everyone,” McHenry said. “I was definitely pretty nervous at first, but once we started it was a pretty comfortable environment to just get up on stage and let loose in.”

Watkins, McHenry’s singing partner and guitar and piano accompanist, seconded her positive feelings towards the whole experience.

“We had a really great time performing, and everyone was so supportive along the way,” Watkins said.

The competition was just as exciting for those who watched as those who performed. The contest was hosted by the high school Youth Action Team, or YAT, and it made sure to provide ample seating, talent and snacks throughout the event.

“Everyone there was talented, and it was a really great experience watching my friends get up there and sing their hearts out, especially because they did such an awesome job,” junior Harley Sutton said.