Color guard is relatively new to Harlan High School. Mrs. Betsy Burkhart, HHS band director, introduced it to our school and has for the past seven or eight years taken groups to competitions held at Knoxville, Asheville, Bristol, Dayton and other venues. For those of you who have seen a marching band perform, the color guard participants are those attractive band members who spin the flags, twirl the rifles and perform dance steps in unison. In order to perfect each of these skills, it takes hours and hours of practice. During the winter months, the guard competes in an indoor circuit called “Winter Guard.” The events take place inside a stadium or gymnasium. Its components include graceful movements to recorded music and expert handling of flags and rifles. Each show has a theme, colorful costumes and a huge decorated tarp that covers the gym floor. Harlan’s group has become most proficient at this sport during the last few years and the event itself is becoming more widespread.
This year’s team consists of Katharine Cohelia, Lexie Magnani, Jared Sizemore, Kelsey Perkins, Kayla Osborne, Rachel Stanton, Bethany James, Jessica Phan, Yin Chen, Taylor Horton and Brittney Fox.
The activity requires dedication and attendance at several Saturday competitions where they perform in the CIPA (Carolina Indoor Performance Association) circuit. The teams are grouped by experience level from “Novice” class to SA (Scholastic A) to SO (Scholastic Open), which is the top high school class. There are also “Independent” groups which consist of advanced high school students, college students, as well as older individuals who want to continue the sport beyond their school years.
Show designer, Marcus Lewis, of Johnson City, Tenn., has traveled to Harlan numerous times this year assisting Mrs. Burkhart in designing the program and training the team. Last year’s captain, Hope Aslinger, has also been an invaluable assistant with the varsity guard as well as the newly formed JV guard who performed at their first competition this year.
WGI (World Guard International) started 35 years ago and through three and a half decades the “Sport of the Arts” continues to grow and become a place of comfort for thousands of teachers, performers, musicians and fans. The organization takes Dayton, Ohio by storm every April as hundreds of teams from New York, California, Texas, as well as every other state in the union converge on four separate venues to compete. Harlan High School Winter Guard performed in the Nutter Center on the Wright State University campus. The other venues were University of Dayton Arena, Cintas Center at Xavier University and Dayton Convention Center.
In addition to the competition activity, the team from Harlan also enjoyed a trip to the Cincinnati Art Museum, a “dress up” dinner at one of the city’s finest restaurants and a shopping excursion to Dayton’s mall. It was an educational trip for the group and created a memory of a unique experience which they will remember fondly for many years to come.