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The 25th Annual Invitational

Friday, March 6 & Saturday, March 7, 2020

2020 Judging Panel

Melissa Eklund (Scoring Daytime Only)
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Melissa Eklund is a freelance choreographer currently residing in Omaha, Nebraska but originally from Keller, Texas.  A trained singer and dancer, she fell in love with show choir at Central High School where she was a member of the first-ever nationally competitive show choir (Voices of Central) in Texas.  After high school, Melissa attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she studied Music Education. At UNL, she was a section leader, dance captain, and featured soloist for the university's nationally known show choir, Big Red Singers.  She also spent many years as a counselor, dance captain, choreography intern, and most recently, a co-choreographer at the Nebraska Show Choir Camp. 

Melissa received her Master of Science in Education from the University of Nebraska-Omaha in 2019.  She teaches first grade at an elementary school in one of Omaha’s suburbs. When she is not teaching her sweet first graders, Melissa choreographs and clinics over 25 show choirs in the Midwest.  Several of the schools she works for hire her to design their costumes and create custom hair and makeup looks for their ensemble. Furthermore, Melissa choreographs musicals, assists other award-winning choreographers, and judges various competitions. 

Melissa is looking forward to this competition season not only because she loves watching students shine on stage, but also because she is gearing up for her greatest adventure - becoming a mom in early May! 

Brent Peterson (Scoring)
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Brent Peterson is a vocal music director in the Waukee Community School District.  Now in his 29th year of teaching, he is currently at Timberline School where he directs all of the 8th grade ensembles and show choir EN FUEGO, assists with the 9th grade mixed chorus and show choir, gives voice lessons, and also assists with the other HS show choirs in the district as needed.  In addition to his work with the choirs in Waukee, he is also a volleyball coach and track coach in the district, and was named the Iowa Association of Track Coaches Junior High Track Coach of the Year in 2015.  Brent was the conductor for the Boys OPUS Honor Choir in 2006, and has also received the WOI Channel 5 “My Favorite Teacher” award.


Mr. P., as he is known at Waukee, graduated from Northwest Missouri State University in 1991 with a B.S. Ed. in Vocal Music Education.  In 1999 he completed a Master of Arts in Effective Teaching degree from Viterbo University, where he has also served as an adjunct professor. When not working with students at Waukee, Brent is an active guest director, show choir clinician and judge, IHSMA All-State Choir Lead Auditor, and speaker around the Midwest.  He is married to Anne Peterson, an elementary music teacher at Brookview/Eason/Woodland Hills in Waukee, and proud Dad to 12 year old Joel Peterson, a 7th grader at South MS in Waukee. When not working, the family loves to travel to the Florida Keys, golf, and enjoy boating at their lake home on Sun Valley Lake.

Steve Woodin (Scoring)
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Before his retirement in June of 2010 Steve Woodin spent 28 years as the Director of Choral Activities at Urbandale High School where he conducted the Concert Choir, Select Mixed Choir, Urbandale Singers, and Studio the varsity show choir. While at Urbandale High School 392 students were selected into the Iowa All-State Chorus. His Show Choirs received numerous state and national awards. Steve was the 1st recipient of the, “Allen and Sandra Chapman Director Appreciation Award of Excellence” given by Show Choir Nationals on March 28, 2010.


Steve has served as an adjudicator for the Iowa All-State, and has served as an assistant to 4 Iowa All-State Chairs. He has judged at State small and Large group contests in Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska. He will be adjudicating show choir competitions this year in Iowa, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. He presently teaches private voice and this passed year worked with All-State ensembles from Johnston, Norwalk, Des Moines Roosevelt and Des Moines Lincoln High Schools. He served at the music director for, Sound of Music, Wizard of Oz, Seussical the Musical, and Peter Pan, at the Des Moines Playhouse. Steve directed the 2011 OPUS boys honor choir and Chaired the 2012 Iowa Choral Directors Association Summer Symposium. Steve loves to travel and fish in his spare time.


Steve has been married to Paula for 39 years and has 3 children, Scott, Greg and Janelle.

Joel Johnston (Critique/Finals)
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Joel Johnston is enjoying his 35th year as a music educator.  After 21 years as a high school choral and show choir director, Joel now works as a free-lance vocal clinician, conductor, choreographer, and adjudicator.  He has conducted more than 40 choral festivals throughout the Midwest, and is a frequent show choir adjudicator.


Since 2005, Joel’s “home base” has been the SNJ Studio of Music, where he teachers voice and conducts two award-winning ensembles – the SNJ Singers, a select 50-voice High School A Cappella Choir, and Center Stage, a 56-member Middle School Show Choir.  Joel is also Artistic Director SNJ Musical Theater, providing experience and training in Acting, Singing, and Dancing for students in grades 2-9. More than 1,500 students have participated in SNJ Musical Theater terms and summer camps since 2005.


Joel is currently serving as Interim Choral Director at Midland University. He is also the Chorus Master for the Omaha Symphony Christmas Celebration at the Holland Center in Omaha, and was musical director for the popular Nebraska Shakespeare production of Twelfth Night in June of 2013.   He served as President of the Nebraska Choral Directors Association, as well as Chair of Choral Affairs for the Nebraska Music Educators Association. He was named NMEA’s Outstanding Music Educator of the Year in 2003.

Mark Mangold (Critique/Finals)
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Mark Mangold is a show choir clinician who has worked with groups throughout the upper Midwest.  He also continues to be a frequent judge/clinician at show choir competitions throughout the country. 


Mark was the choreographer and assistant director for the “Jefferson Connection,” the varsity show choir at Thomas Jefferson High School in Bloomington, MN for sixteen years. During his tenure with Bloomington Jefferson, the groups were honored with many championship and caption awards. He has also been a featured choreographer and staff member at show choir camps in the Midwest.


Mark is a graduate of The University of Iowa, where he was a vocal music student as well as a four-year performer in the U of I Old Gold Singers show choir. 


Residing in Minneapolis, Mark’s “day job” is in the corporate world. He enjoys being involved with show choir, as this positive activity complements and provides balance in his life. 


This year, Mark will be on the judging panel at competitions in Iowa, Wisconsin and Mississippi.

Sarah Van Waardhuizen (Critique/Finals)
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Sarah Van Waardhuizen is a native of Northeast Iowa and serves the Central College faculty as Assistant Professor of Music - Music Education.  She teaches music education methods courses including elementary general music methods, secondary music methods, show choir and jazz choir techniques, instrumental music education for vocal music education majors, voice lessons, Central College treble clef choir, and Intersections - an innovative writing course for first-year students.  Van Waardhuizen earned her undergraduate degree from Drake University (B.M.E.), master’s degree from The University of Kansas (M.M.E. in choral pedagogy), and her Ph.D. from The University of Iowa.  


Previously, Dr. Van Waardhuizen taught all levels of music education including both secondary and elementary music in the Des Moines metro area.  Van Waardhuizen served the North Central Division of the American Choral Directors Association and Iowa Choral Directors Association as Repertoire and Standards chair for show choir.  Van Waardhuizen studied with many influential music educators including Dr. Debra Hedden, Ms. Nancy Allen, Ms. Leanne Freeman-Miller, Dr. Aimee Beckmann-Collier, Dr. Virginia Bennett, Dr. James Daugherty, and Dr. Jeremy Manternach.  


She is a sought after clinician for ensembles, soloists, and show choirs.  Van Waardhuizen enjoys being part of the learning process for groups and individuals.  Her research interests include motivation in music education and autonomy-supportive teaching practices in the music education classroom.  She also studies participatory music, ukuleles in the non-traditional music education classroom, and the musician mindset. Van Waardhuizen is the coordinator and organizer of the All-Iowa Show Choir 2020 - an All-State level show choir for high school students in the state of Iowa.  Van Waardhuizen recently presented at Central College Chairs’ Conference 2018, 2017; Georgia Music Educators Association Conference 2020; ICDA Summer Symposium 2019, 2018; IMEA 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015; SunCoast Music Education Symposium in Tampa, FL, 2015; Mountain Lake Music Education Conference in Pembroke, VA, 2015; and The Self-Determination Theory Conference in Victoria, BC in June 2016.  Dr. VW serves Iowa Music Educators Association as the Collegiate NAfME Chair. She is a member of ACDA, FAME, IBA, ICDA, and NAfME.