By Ashley Richmond

It is a sunny spring afternoon. Birds are chirping, the sky is blue, and people are walking around the park looking for a good place to sit. There is a stage placed perfectly in front of the gazebo. Behind the gazebo are two green tents that will be used as changing rooms, and the performers sit back there nervously waiting for their stage time. The lights and microphones are set up and the crowd eagerly waits for the Pops Concert to begin.

Courtney Plati and Anamika Bhattacharjee, juniors at Andover High School, step onto the platform and walk up to the microphones. This is unusual for an Andover High School concert. Typically Mark Mercer, Andover High School’s music director, introduces the concerts. Not this time. The Pops Concert, which is similar to a talent show, but only involves singing, is a student-run performance put together by Plati and Bhattacharjee.

“I think it’s nice for students to have something that they can call their own,” says Mercer, “especially now because it takes what they’ve all learned throughout the year and it kind of allows them to have the tools then to put together their own project for the end of the school year.”

Originally there were no distinct leaders because Mercer did not appoint anyone. “They as a group kind of had some people step up and take over and point everyone in the right direction to give some organization to the event,” says Mercer. He wanted the Pops concert to be “completely student produced” and knew that if he didn’t pick a leader eventually someone would take the role.

He was right. Plati and Bhattacharjee felt that if no one took charge then there would be no show. “No one had done anything,” says Plati, “so Anamika [and I] just kind of took it upon ourselves to step up and get stuff done.”

Though Mercer wanted it student run and produced he did help out in the end. Mercer, along with other adults, helped set up and take down the equipment in the park. He also sat in during the tech rehearsal and gave advice to the students and to Plati and Bhattacharjee, making the process a bit easier on all.

Organizing a concert was harder than they expected. The duo and the tech crew (techies for short) ran into multiple complications. Eamon Callahan, an Andover High School junior and techie for the Pops concert, says, “There was a dance competition at the Collins Center, so we had to borrow all the mics and stuff from places other than the high school.”

“The equipment is older than I am, and we got everything from anywhere that would give us stuff,” says Matt Boulanger, junior and stage manager at Andover High School. He explained that the wires wouldn’t connect well to the mics or the amps.

During the show the tech crew ran into technical difficulties, which were expected. The microphones would work on-and-off during performances; two of the three microphones stopped working altogether in the middle of an act. After that mishap, the techies were able to fix that problem, but ran into another one while unloading the equipment back into the Collins Center.

When they first arrived back at the Collins Center they found cars double parked in front of the band room doors. It took half an hour of waiting and frustration until the owners of the cars came out of the building and drove off. When they opened the doors they found another surprise. The dance competitors used the band and chorus rooms as changing rooms, so the guys on tech weren’t allowed to enter until the dancers left, making the unloading process longer and more frustrating.

Despite the complications that Plati and Bhattacharjee faced, they produced a “fabulous” show that made Mercer proud. At the end of the Pops concert he went up on stage and expressed how impressed he was with the way things turned out, and complimented Plati and Bhattacharjee on their hard work.