The Patriot High Winter Guard has a powerful story to tell. Actually, make that two stories.
The first tale unfolds on stage, through dance and the spinning of props such as flags and rifles. It's a story of love and loss, grief and longing.
The second narrative follows the performers themselves, and what a banner season they're having. Not only has Patriot won two tournaments this year and placed third in another, but judges lifted the team to a higher division in March – a rare nod to exceptional performance.
That promotion, from High School A (novice) to Scholastic AAA (intermediate), is an honor that reflects the squad's work ethic, said Winter Guard adviser Laura Baker. She added, "It takes a lot of dedication, teamwork, and literal physical repeating to develop endurance and the skills to do the choreography asked of them."
That choreography grips the audience emotionally as performers reflect on a departed loved one and feel the pull of the void left behind. The routine, set to "End of May" by Michael Bublé, offers crisp, theatrical artistry, with the team's 21 members in sync.
In addition to storytelling, Winter Guard teaches students organization, task completion, commitment, and problem solving, among other skills. "I always kind of joke, 'they sign up to spin flags and wear costumes, but what we really do is teach them life lessons,' " Ms. Baker said.
The team next competes on Saturday, April 16, at the Winter Guard Association of Southern California Championships at Edison High School in Long Beach. The squad will also have a District Showcase Exhibition on Thursday, April 21, at Patriot High School.
Admission to the exhibition is free, and those attending should expect another great show. "They're never complacent," Ms. Baker said of her performers and their storybook season. "They're always looking to get better, even after a win."
Photo credit: Gabriel Huerta Photography