The Student News Site of Claudia Taylor Johnson High School

My Jag News

The Student News Site of Claudia Taylor Johnson High School

My Jag News

The Student News Site of Claudia Taylor Johnson High School

My Jag News

Color guard puts a little pep in their step

Maddie Chondra dances while performing for color guard during the halftime performance against Brandeis. Photo by Adelin Blackmon

by Emma Fischer | feature editor

After the long day of dancing, pushing herself to the limit of flexibility, in the sun or in the gym, freshman Hannah Miller learned five stand dances, three band dances, and two performance routines in the span of seven weeks.

“Sometimes girls think that in pep squad, you don’t learn anything because when at the games, we’re in the stands and don’t perform. You actually do learn a lot,” Miller said.

Dancing solely at football games can create false assumptions. Like most things, there is more to a book than its cover.

“I don’t know why people would think that’s all we do. I think maybe some dancers just thought it wouldn’t be as fun because we perform in the stands and other groups perform on the field – but it’s really good to start out like that, to learn all the different styles of dance. I just don’t think they had all the information,” Miller said.

Even with the information, some people can’t help but to be drawn to a splash of color on the field during halftime shows. The school color guard went to many middle schools and convinced many eighth graders to join their program.

“I didn’t really consider pep squad because I didn’t really hear much about it. I heard a lot more about color guard. Color guard came to the school, showed us how to use a flag. I just remember more about color guard than about pep squad,” freshman and color guard member Emma Eggar said.

Even since color guard is a form of dance, only with a flag, many color guard members didn’t consider pep squad to start out with dancing because of what they saw at games; that pep squad is in the stands.

“I didn’t join pep squad because I’ve always had an interest in color guard, since my mother was in color guard. She had really enjoyed it and showed me pictures of the time she had in the program,” freshman and color guard member Sophia Saa said. “I also didn’t join pep squad because of the stereotype of them just being in the stands and not really performing during games and things. Sure, they help with the spirit when we’re down, but I feel that color guard is more involved in performances.”

With their advertisements and record of being undefeated with the band last year, many students were thrilled and excited to join the program.

“There are 37 girls in color guard. It it almost double the amount as last year,” Eggar said. “I’ve noticed that we’re more involved at the beginning of the year. We sort of hit the ground running.”

However, such a large start can cause a lot of stress for many people. Part of the reason the band went undefeated last year was their long hours, and the color guard is no exception for time commitment. Staring out at the beginning of August, the color guard practices with the band for twelve hours, with less than three hours for lunch and dinner.

“I think the color guard was really good last year…I think people wanted to be a part of something so amazing. I just wanted to be a part of it,” freshman and color guard member Bethany Williams said.

During the summer, the pep squad practices less than the color guard, but even then, many people don’t want to give up their summer for school programs.

“I think [the pep squad] is so much smaller this year because sometimes people don’t want to give up the time or aren’t ready to commit to the program,” freshman and pep squad member Lindsey Pratories said. “But it’s worth it, to give up the summer. I have loved every minute.”

Pep squad prepares students for future years on the dance team, while color guard teaches everyone more advanced choreography  such as throwing a flag in the air while spinning.

“You learn a lot of skills needed to try out  for Belles and Legacy. I think girls didn’t sign up but now they see how fun it is. You get to go to games and be in the stands. I  don’t think they realized how fun it would be,” Miller said.

Both programs participate in competitions and in both programs and allow students to be involved with marching band. The difference is in pep squad, it’s a choice and in color guard it’s s a requirement.

“A lot of people joined this year, I think, because they realized how fun it would be,” freshman and color guard member Lauren Rosenberg said.

For the color guard, more than half of the members are freshmen, since there were only thirteen girls in the program last year.

“We recruited a lot this year. We added another middle school, Tex Hill, to our recruiting area. That was huge. We took part in actually going into the gym classes at the middle schools. We performed a couple of exercises but were very interactive with the middle schoolers. We don’t normally do that,” color guard director Darryl Penderton said.

With such a huge group, itcan be challenging to teach the basics to everyone, but qualities of honesty and discipline hold a strong presence.

“ discipline. The reason we have discipline is because we have a strong work ethic and you have to have discipline, to really be successful and coming up to meet those challenges. You have to be committed to achieve the goals of the class. That’s where the discipline comes into play,” Penderton said.

About four or five years ago, the guard had an equal amount of members they took to BOA.

“This is the largest group that we’ve taught, but about four or five years ago we had 36 girls like we do now,” Penderton said. “The school was fresh, new, not that old. We had just opened up and it was exciting to join the color guard to get and start the school with all these awards. A lot of people recruited, the kids recruited.”

For color guard being a form of dance, a couple of  girls have switched over from pep squad or moved from middle school dance into the color guard.

“There are a couple of girls who have switched over from pep squad or did dance in middle school and joined color guard and not the dance program, even though they were heading to pep squad,” Penderton said. “I don’t like to take girls from other programs because it is ultimately the students’ choice. There have been a couple of dancers who have switched over, yes.”

Each program have separate qualities that make them fun and exciting for different kinds of people and as the years go on, the programs will evolve, change and leave something rememberable behind.

“I wanted to be a part of something that was bigger than me, something the school was proud of. I wanted to continue the legacy, to represent the school when we are at away game or home games. I want to be a part of something that shows who we really are,” Saa said.


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Color guard puts a little pep in their step