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Kickline Squads Perform on National Stage

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All three kickline squads from high schools in the Central High School District earned invitations to the National Dance Alliance nationals, held in Orlando, Florida, from March 8-10.

The Mepham High School Pirettes have earned bids before, making this their 10th trip to the national stage.

“Our team starts preparing for the upcoming season at the end of June each year,” explained coach and social studies teacher Kerry Dennis. “The team practices twice a week over the summer until the season begins and primarily works on skills, conditioning and technique. They juggle learning their competition routines for the season with football halftime routines and basketball games. Once our local competition season begins in January, they can get these competition routines onto the floor. That's when feedback from judges leads to choreography changes and more cleaning. All the preparation, whether it is drills or routine cleaning, is for that nationals moment.”

Mepham placed second in Large Varsity Kick, third in Large Varsity Team Performance, sixth in Large Varsity Pom and 15th in Small Varsity Jazz. In addition, the team was a Sportsmanship Award nominee and the kickline team earned Innovative Choreography for their Team Performance Routine.

“What always impresses me about this team besides their work ethic and drive, is the genuine enthusiasm and respect they show to each team they meet,” Dennis noted. “These girls left it all on the floor at nationals. I could not be prouder of their performances in each of their routines. I am extremely proud to be in the top 10 for three of our four routines. The teams that compete at nationals come from all over the country and truly are incredible. To be able to place among them and share the stage with them is so amazing.”

For Kennedy and Calhoun High School squads, this was their first bid in their schools’ history. Attending nationals was always an aspiration for coach/school counselor Kat Peck.

“I knew this specific group of girls was up for the challenge because of their optimism, determination and their evident support for myself and for one another,” she added. But preparing for the competition was unlike anything the team had done before. ‘

“It all started in the summer by attending NDA Dance Camp with Kennedy Kickline to receive a bid to nationals,” she said.

Peck said the dancing came naturally to the squad, but the legwork to organize fundraisers and coordinate such a trip was the hard part.

“The girls trained harder than ever before to make Calhoun history and accomplish our goal — advance to finals,” she added. “The work was worth it.”

Calhoun placed 10th in Medium Varsity Hip Hop, 20th in Small Varsity Pom- 20th and fourth in Medium Varsity Kick. They also received the Sportsmanship Award— the votes were based on observed behavior of dancers, coaches and their fans.

The Kennedy kickline team had an impressive first showing at nationals as well, although they did not make it to finals.

“The girls felt determined to be the first group to attend nationals and make a mark,” said coach Stephanie Roth, who is also a special education teacher at Mepham. “The girls worked tirelessly to accomplish their one goal— to compete on the nationals stage.”

They began fundraising during the summer and created a sponsor shirt that included local businesses, schools and community members.

To prepare, they worked tirelessly on routines as well as studying competitive dances from college nationals which were held in January.

“The girls bonded and learned new things about each other during team dinners/team meetings,” Roth added. “They knew this competition was intense, so the girls made sure to always cheer on their teammates and be there for one another. There was amazing talent throughout the competition and being able to compete in four different categories was a team goal that was achieved. We were so fortunate to have a strong, spirit group that consisted of parents, relatives and friends.”

Click here to view the photo slideshow.

Date Added: 3/25/2024

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