Winter Guard takes center stage

Sophomore Grace Parker spins her rifle while practicing her routine.


            In the fall, Color Guard helped the Marching Band win the 2022 NJMBDA Class AA State Championship and place 5th at Nationals. The collective won Best Visual Effect at three competitions, and generated high hopes for the Winter Guard season, which begins with the team’s first performance this Saturday at the Home Show at 3pm in the Main Gymnasium. 

            Everyone involved is proud of those accomplishments, especially the national recognition. “It was the biggest highlight of our season,” said Color Guard Director Chantal Torchia. 

            The squad now transitions to Winter Guard. They both contain a routine to music accompanied by dance, flags, sabers, and rifles, but Winter Guard routines are to recorded music while Color Guard performs in unison with the Marching Band. Sophomore Gabriella Vallo shared, “Winter Guard allows you to be more creative with choreography.” 

Kendra Cruz, Grace Parker, and Hailey Hui practice their flag work after school in the cafeteria.

            The Winter Guard’s song this year is “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure. The routine requires intense flag and rifle work, but also dramatic dance moves. “Having to do more new stuff is fun, and every time you can improve on a skill in Winter Guard,” explained sophomore Kaitlyn Degregory “My Winter Guard experience so far has been great.” 

            Besides high school students, the team also includes young members from Carl Sandburg and Jonas Salk Middle School who will soon lead the team. “We have four new people and eight veterans, or people who have done it in the past,” divulged sophomore Echo Prado Roberts.  

Emma Lacnono, a sixth grader from Carl Sandburg Middle School, twirls her flag with enthusiasm as she prepares for the anticipated exhibition.

            The team will take this routine on the road to four exhibitions and one competition from February to April. “We are excited but also nervous for our first performance,” shared Degregory.  

            Learning how to use a flag and rifle is not easy, but Director Torchia makes sure it becomes second nature for the students. Senior Preston Peng stated, “In the face of choreography and skills being challenging for me to learn, people have been encouraging and have given great advice.”  

            In order to get comfortable with the routine, the squad dedicates time and effort to their preparation. “We have rehearsal every Saturday and Monday, Monday 7-9 and Saturday 10-2. We always start with a stretch and practice choreography. Then we do drill and flag work.” 

Sophomore Gabriella Vallo spins her flag in preparation of the Winter Guard’s upcoming performances.

            With all of the time they have spent practicing, the team bonded immediately and became a family. “In Winter Guard, you get so close to everyone. You truly care for them and want the best for them,” explained sophomore Echo Prado Roberts. 

            Starting Saturday, the team can see the results of their hard work when they begin to perform for audiences with the new routine. “The part about Winter Guard that is the most challenging for me is performing in front of larger audiences,” shared Peng. “Although I am comfortable at rehearsal, I get really nervous when performing in front of larger audiences.” 

Sophomore Hailey Hui portrays an angel at the end of the routine, set to the song “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure.

            Come out to support the Winter Guard at their first public performance of the season this Saturday at 3pm in the OBHS Main Gymnasium and follow them on twitter and instagram for updates. 

Posted on 2/9/23 

Photos by Tomi Komolafe

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