from Lora Lavigne, WRAL TV 5 reporter…www.wralsportsfan.com:
ROXBORO, N.C. — Person High School has caused uproar in the community after it decided to disband its popular all-girls drill team that’s been around since the 70s. Drill teams are a precision dance team, similar to the Rockettes. The girls perform high kicks, splits and coordinated dances.
Students and parents were notified this week that the team would be cut, and the school will instead combine the band, flag, drill and dance teams into one group.
Administrators say that this decision was made so that the school would be “better prepared” for competitions.
Students are upset because they were notified of this decision after auditions were over.
People in the community say they loved watching students perform a 50-year-old tradition on Friday nights at the football stadium.
“Everybody loved it because they all had their each individual style, and it made an awesome show,” said Allison Porterfield, whose daughter was on the team.
She said trying to combine every different group’s talents is going to “take away from the whole atmosphere.”
Mary Mangum, the drill team’s coach, said she was given no say in the decision.
“They told me we are merging these two teams together, and they’re in it or they’re not,” she said.
Porterfield said her daughter cried for three hours when she got the news.
“All she wanted to do [from] when she was 5 years old and up was to kick not twirl a flag,” she said.
More than 3,000 people have signed a petition with demands to reverse the decision. The petition was started by the drill team’s captain, Zane Oakley.
“I knew that we had to do something as a team to get this reversed,” she said.
Principal Jonté Hill said in a statement the move is meant to expand the teams’ opportunities.
“Drill team is a very specific skill set. It’s kicks, it’s sharpness,” Mangum said. “There’s not really many dance moves that you would have in a traditional dance team. And color guard is flags.”
The decision prompted school sponsors like Tar Heel Cheverlot Buick GMC to pull out.
Still, Hill stands by the decision: “We feel this new direction will not only keep current traditions, but will move our band program forward to be competitive in upcoming band competitions.”
After the pandemic led to a far from ordinary experience last year, students said they feel disappointed once again.
“The fact [is] that I finally get to do my dream, and it all gets taken away from me,” said student Farrah Porterfield. “Why am I getting punished from my hard work that I’ve given for so long?”
SAVE PHS/Person High School DRILL TEAM TRADITION
Zane Oakley started this petition to Person County Schoolboard
The Person High School Drill Team is a highly respected tradition that has been around since 1974. It requires a very specific skill set that some girls work on for a good portion of their lives to achieve. From a young age, they’re looking forward to the day when they can finally try out. Unfortunately, on July 13th, we were informed that there will no longer be a Drill Team. We also were not apart of the decision making process. The decision of Drill Team and Color Guard being combined into one team was presented to us in an unconventional manner by the new administration of Person High School. We were led into a meeting with no idea of what to expect, and essentially told that we had no choice but to move on with this new step.
The Drill Team has been around for nearly 50 years. As many of you know, Drill Team brings a lot of exciting entertainment to a number of events at the high school. This includes football games, basketball games, pep rallies, local parades, and more. Drill Team has also won many awards over the years at UDA camp, which is the camp that the team attends every year outside of town. Drill Team is sometimes a deciding factor for girls on the team and upcoming freshman to decide whether to attend RCS or PHS.
The dedication, commitment and love that the girls pour into this team is like no other. They put their hearts into performing for everyone every chance they get. These team members work hard year round to improve their technicality and dance ability to make their team better, and care deeply about exciting the audience at performances. Even last year with Covid changing a lot of things, the team put a lot of time and effort into their practices. They practiced for long hours outside in the cold and in the heat because they love this team and what it means for the community. They were looking forward to a normal season to be able to perform for Person County again. However, this is being ripped away from them without question? They’re having all their hard work ripped away from them, in order to create a more “unified environment”? The Drill Team was informed about this dramatic change after tryouts for the team were carried out in May.
It was stated that this change has been in the works for the last year. If that is the case, why were just informed at the mandatory meeting between parents and members on July 13th? After tryouts had already been held? It was said that the cause of this change was because the band wants to compete at competitions. In order to do this, they have to carry one whole team to competition. In the past, Person High School had a competitive band, and Drill Team still existed, so why do these girls have to lose a 50 year old tradition? The girls were in tears as they left the meeting last night.
As if Covid ruining last season wasn’t hard enough for these girls, they are now being forced to try and learn new skills, after having no say in the matter. If we want Unity, this is not how to approach it. We can all be unified together while continuing to do our separate things. The Drill Team’s iconic tradition should not be ruined or ripped away from Person County. Hundreds of young women have been apart of this team over the last 50 years, and we will not let it go.
Please do us all a great favor and sign this petition.
HELP SAVE PERSON HIGH SCHOOL DRILL TEAM