Winter guard places fourth at contest

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Varsity Winterguard performed their show, “Just Let Me Cry” placing third at the Regional A contest March 30. Junior Johnson said the show demonstrates how people process the loss of loved ones. “We’re just showing that loss really isn’t something you need to be sad about, it’s more something that you need to celebrate. Which is why, at the end of our show, it’s more upbeat, rather than our slow previous tempo.”

Flags of gold, blue and gray billow in the air as a slow, lyrical song serenades the ears of the audience. Students dressed as the working class of the 1920s glide across the gym floor, mourning the loss of a loved one.

The varsity winter guard team placed fourth at their most recent contest Friday, April 9, and will compete at  championships April 24. The team of 11 began practicing for their show, “Just Let Me Cry,” in December. Co-captain and senior Lawson Johnston portrays a loved one who passed away, whether from the Spanish flu or the war. Johnston, who has participated in guard for four years, said the beginning of the show is the most meaningful part for him.

“We’re in a park, and I’m the ghost walking through the park,” Johnston said. “I’m going through and everyone is feeling my presence, but I’m actually supposed to be dead. I’m there, but I’m not there. As a senior, it means a lot to me because this is my last season that I will ever perform in the winter guard. It’s really sentimental to me because it brings back all the memories of everything that I’ve been through.”

The show theme, chosen by guard instructor Amanda Brookhart, portrays how the grieving process differs for individuals.

“She wanted to make a representation of how this year has gone,” Johnston said. “I haven’t had any family members die from COVID, so I can’t really relate to that, but there are other people that are in guard that have had family members die, and I know it’s impacted them.”

That’s my ultimate goal, for them to feel prepared. No matter what, guard or no guard.”

— Ryanne Higgins, 11

The 2021 winter guard season is the sixth guard show co-captain and junior Ryanne Higgins has performed in. Higgins said she leads through being reliable.

“I like getting to know each and every one of them for their strengths within guard and who they are as a person, so you can better help lead them and not just make them a better guard member, but help them prepare for in the future–making sure they grow in themselves,” Higgins said. “That’s my ultimate goal–for them to feel prepared. No matter what: guard or no guard.”

Higgins said the show affected her personally, having recently lost a loved one.

“I think the message is that it’s okay to let your emotions out,” Higgins said. “You don’t have to keep that sadness quiet. It’s okay to ask somebody to help you out. You don’t want to keep it in and linger on that, because that’ll just prolong any type of feeling.”

Unlike prior years, the winter guard uniforms are unique to team members. Junior Jillian Johnson said the individuality of the uniforms represents the individual ways people process loss.

“My uniform is a floral white button-down with brown overalls over it, and it’s supposed to represent the working class of the 20s: the farmers and the factory workers,” Johnson said. “We didn’t just have like one uniform for everyone; instead [Brookhart] wanted us each to look different because we’re each our own person. She just wanted to show that there were more than just one set of people during this time period.”

Johnson, who performs on flag line, said the show demonstrates the joy that can be found in loss.

“When someone passes away, you’re going to be sad, but you also need to celebrate that you got to spend time with them,” Johnson said. “It’s helping me process my greatgrandmother’s passing last March. I never got to process that because she passed away right before we went into quarantine last year. So now, having a show where I can express how I was feeling–it’s really helping me move past it.”