“Spinning through Adversity”
Agawam High School Colorguard and Winterguard
Agawam High School
Winter 2020 – had half an indoor season before it was cancelled in
March 2020 – Finished season with online discussions and a place to talk about how we felt
Summer 2020 – a few socially distanced practices to keep kids engaged, as well as online chats
Fall 2020 – Virtual Marching Band (online), projects including making educational guard videos and creating their own marching show
Winter 2021 – With restrictions easing, was able to have a 6 week Winter season and participate in our local circuit virtual shows as well as WGI virtual shows.
Fall 2021 – No Marching band, but guard performed
My objectives were to keep the students engaged in the colorguard activity throughout the pandemic. Engagement included online components as well as in person as the situation dictated. I gave the students the opportunity to put on the directors hat while online; coming up with their own show concepts and ideas from music, costuming, flags and some basic drill. They also created how-to videos for basic colorguard moves to be used for future students. I also found virtual competitions for the 2021 Winter season for them. It was a much shorter season and everything was online, but it got the students excited to be able to perform again for judges feedback. I also wanted to keep the lines of communication with my students open and have them have a safe space to be able to talk about how they were feeling.
My target audience was for sure the students. I wanted them to have as normal a season (or seasons) as they could. I wanted to show them that our colorguard program was not going to disappear because of the pandemic. I believe this taught them resilience and perserverance. It showed them that even through hard times, we could still be together and perform together. It also gave my students an outlet from the isolation of online learning.
The overall timeline was from Winter 2020 through Winter 2022.
Overview of Planning and Execution
I was involved in the planning and execution of keeping the program alive. My role is Colorguard director and I spent as much time as I would have during a normal season planning and executing my initiative. That would be up to 300 hours during a winter season.
Marketing and Promotion
I only really promoted internally. Word of mouth from my students is the biggest way to promote my program. They tell their friends how much fun they’re having and in turn they bring others to join as well. I also stated a Youtube channel that had all of the past performances so they could see that and be inspired.
The only expenditures incurred were when we performed in person. There were no competition fees during 2021 Winter or Fall season. We did buy new fall uniforms for 2021 aprox. $1300. Also bought two new sets of silks for fall 2021 aprox. $600.
There were a lot of challenges to overcome during and after the Pandemic and restrictions being lifted. I was glad to have the opportunity to have a shortened virtual season with the Winterguard in 2021. We took our show from the year before and modified it for the restrictions we were under. The kids had to wear masks and we were not able to do equipment exchanges.Equipment had to be sanitized after every practice. I was glad to do it because I could tell the kids appreciated it so much. They were happy to get together with their friends and receive feedback from judges from our local circuit and from Winterguard International judges.The summer of 2021, we were able to practice outside, but at 6 feet apart. The students were happy to be able to spin and see each other. Unfortunately, our Fall Marching season did not materialize as we had hoped. The guard performed pregame and halftime on our own during home football games. While the kids were nervous at first without the band, they were very proud to be able to perform on the field for our school and our town. The many challenges made things very difficult for us, but the kids persevered and were able to continue to enjoy spinning and have something in their school lives be as normal as possible during a difficult time.
I believe it was successful as my colorguard program has actually increased in numbers! I went from 12 the past few fall seasons to 20 this season.
It showed the music department, school, and community that there was still at least a colorguard program up and running during pandemic in the fall and my winter program got to compete nationally (virtually) for two seasons representing our school, town, and program nationally for the first time in its history.
Advice for others?
I would say that hard work and perseverance on the my part as well as my students is what kept my colorguard program running. Look into your local circuit, WGi, and other instructors for help and inspiration!