ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque middle school just took home a big trophy. Students from Eisenhower Middle School’s Five Star Show Choir took first place at a national competition in California last month.

Eisenhower Middle School was the only school representing the state. Doing a 12-minute medley that included songs from the Doobie Brothers and Whitney Houston. Their hard work paid off.

“When we heard the second place winner and knew we were first, we were all jumping up and down, screaming, crying, hugging everyone,” said Rebekah Bell, an 8th-grade student.

Ayden Strong is one of the 46 members of the choir. In order to get ready for the competition, Strong practiced long hours on his own.

“I’d turn on the track for the entire show, and I’d just run it, run it, run it, and with vocals with full-out dancing, I wouldn’t stop until I knew I was pretty good,” said Strong.

William Gonzales is the choir teacher and said students started rehearsing in August and continued with their practice before school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, where they get coaching via Zoom from instructors in New York. Five State Choir is a combination of 6, 7 and 8th graders.

“Students come in for either summer or weekend intensives where they worked for about 9 hours straight, learning choreography and vocals,” said Gonzales. “Our eighth graders that have been doing it for possibly three years can take a lot of leadership, and then our sixth graders can learn from the eighth graders and kind of push their potential and the expectation.”

As for Strong, he’s glad all of the morning rehearsals paid off.

“Five Star puts in so much effort and work into these rehearsals, I’m just thankful the judges saw that,” said Strong.

Eisenhower is the only Albuquerque Public School Middle School with a show choir. La Cueva and Volcano Vista High Schools also have show choirs.