Hinsdale's Donniaquo Has Big Dreams Ahead
Recently Participated In National FFA Chorus
February 15, 2023
Hinsdale senior Codi Donniaquo has a full plate as she counts down the days until graduation. From working at Elle Boutique in Glasgow, preparing her audition for the Fort Peck Summer Theatre, filling out scholarship applications, performing in the Pep Band in a co-op with the North Country Mavericks band while also playing one of the lead roles in the student-led production at Glasgow High School's production of "Grease," on top of her school responsibilities such as homework, each day is filled to the brims of to-dos. However, Donniaquo expresses the most impressive thing she has done so far her senior year is being selected to participate in the National FFA Chorus last October.
Donniaquo has been a part of Future Farmers of America (FFA) for six years, when she was required to take the course in middle school. "In 7th/8th grade it's a required class In FFA you get immersed in AG life, while in high school it's a chose whether to take it or not," she explained. Though she has been a part of FFA for that long, this was the first year she decided to audition for the National Chorus.
"I heard about this experience from Heidi Johnson [band/music teacher]. I auditioned in June of 2022, and just waited on the results. It was a long and difficult process, and it even sucked at times! I had to do vocal exercises, submit videos of certain songs," Donniaquo explained. "It was a nationwide competition, where I had to compete for a spot among other United States kids. From what I'm told, each year there are a couple thousand students auditioning for a spot."
After the audition process, a total of 64 students throughout the country was selected, with Donniaquo being only one of two Montanans. The chorus rehearsed for four days together and then they performed at the various sessions throughout the National convention. "There are about 70,000 people attending the sessions each day, and there are even more watching us on television!," she exclaimed as vocal coach teacher Colleen Thompson explained performances were televised on RFD TV. "I was able to watch it and be able to rewind so I could get close up photos of her!," Thompson exclaimed proudly.
Donniaquo is the first Hinsdale student to have a part in the National FFA Chorus. The last time a Hinsdale student participated was when Johnson was selected as a student in the National FFA Band when she was a student. When reflecting upon the experience Donniaquo stated she had huge community support and valued the time she got to spend with the other students and vocal instructors. "These group of students knew what they were doing. It was a bunch of kids who have the same passion. We all perfected our roles, and we even had to tell people when we were on vocal rest, as the vocal fatigue was strong!," she stated. The experience was certainly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that she hopes to be able to repeat when she can audition as a freshman in college. "We still have our group chat, we are all still in contact. This was also my first big trip without my mom. I want to go back and have so many memories! It was truly an experience of a lifetime."
Singing is nothing new for Donniaquo as she has been singing ever since she could talk. She started vocal lessons with Thompson in the sixth-grade after her mom provided additional support after a previous music teacher realized Donniaquo's potential. "I sang my first national anthem in the early 2000s and really stuck to music that I knew well. Then Colleen said 'knock it off, there are different songs!,' laughed Donniaquo.
Thompson admits seeing Donniaquo grew as a singer and person over the years has been extraordinary. "She is one of my longer students. I am proud of all of them for their achievements. It's exciting for me to see them go to other areas of music," explained Thompson. "Though when I see students on stage, I have a habit to listen to them quite closer instead of enjoying myself. I tend to notice more technical aspects."
One technique of her voice coach that Donniaquo appreciates but it is not a true fan of is when Thompson takes videos of her students singing. "When they see themselves, they then have more awareness. They are able to see the areas to improve and areas they are doing well in. But no one wants to see themselves on video," laughed Thompson.
These videos have certainly helped Donniaquo grow into the singer and soprano role she is in now. In addition to singing, since she was little she has performed in the traveling Missoula Children's Theatre and has performed in Fort Peck Productions the last seven years. She is excited to be in one of this year's productions however doesn't have any specific role she is vying for, stating "I'll go for anything this year. Wherever they see fit is fine with me." Thompson echoed by stating "It's really glad to hear that as there is more than one type of acting and music out there."
After graduation, Donniaquo plans to attend the University of Montana to obtain a bachelor's degree in musical theatre with a minor in wildlife biology, though she admits, "that's the plan right now but will definitely pursue a bachelors degree," with the hopes of going everywhere she can to sing, act and travel.