When a new school opens its doors, its students, staff and the wider community celebrate a year of firsts – the first football game, the first crowning achievement of reunion, first and foremost.
At Horizon High School, which opened last August, a select group of students are now enjoying their first year of competition in a lesser-known activity – winter color guarding.
The winter guard season begins in November – usually just after the end of the fall band season – and continues until March. This year, Horizon is participating in five competitions on the Florida Federation of Colorguards circuit.
The team’s first competition took place on January 22 and the championship is just around the corner. The team earned a first-place finish in their Saturday, Feb. 10, round at Lyman High School. Most recently, the guard earned second place on Saturday, Feb. 26 at Freedom High School.
The FFCC also recently featured Valeria Marcial from Horizono on their YouTube channel.
The Horizon High color guard will face teams from across Florida at the championship March 25 in Daytona Beach.
Currently, the Horizon team consists of 19 members. Kassidy Garcia, Horizon’s child care director, said any student of any skill level can participate. The Guardian also has a course offered during the school day called “Eurythmics”, which students must take to be a member of the program.
“It’s amazing how much the program has grown in less than a year,” Garcia said.
Horizon High School second year Macy McCarthy is in his fourth year on the color guard. She started at Bridgewater Middle School when she was in seventh grade.
“I just fell in love with it,” she said.
Junior Ashlyn Nehama started the program as a rookie. After watching the Windermere guard program perform at a half-time football match, she said she was blown away.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God, I have to do this,'” she said.
Having been in other activities before – McCarthy in dancing and Nehama in swimming – both said the experience with the guard had been a positive one.
“The people and the community are my favorite part of it,” McCarthy said. “I already have dance experience, and the competition is always a bit fierce and bloodthirsty. Everyone here is cheering you on and supporting you.
Nehama agreed and said she liked the performance aspect of color keeping.
“Just being out there and being able to express myself through my performance is really cool,” she added.
SETTING THE STANDARD
While being first is exciting for the Horizon color guard, it’s also a challenge.
“There are only a few times in your life when you get to be ‘first’,” Garcia said. “You are setting the standard and the traditions for years to come, and that’s such a fantastic responsibility. Every member of the team is committed to taking on that responsibility, so it’s great to be able to do it with them.
McCarthy said she was excited to create a name for their team and for them to establish their signatures in performance.
“It’s really exciting, but it’s also nerve-wracking,” she shared.
Nehama said being the first is a strange feeling and it hasn’t penetrated yet.
“It’s amazing and I feel so important,” she said. “We are getting to set the standard. We get to be the ones creating this image of what Horizon is, and honestly, I love it.
BUILDING A CULTURE
Not only is Garcia the superintendent of Horizon High School, but she is also the superintendent of Bridgewater Middle School and a civics teacher at Water Spring Middle School.
She was offered the position for the Horizon High Guard team in March 2021.
Garcia brings to the team both a special love for the community and years of experience. She attended Bridgewater Middle School and was part of the school’s color guard program.
Although she moved to Pittsburgh in 2010, she continued to pursue color guards throughout high school and eventually moved to Florida in 2014, where she was a member of the color guard and winter guard program. at University.
After earning her education degree in 2018, Garcia applied for a teaching position at Bridgewater.
She worked at the school for three years and restarted the daycare program.
Garcia said the team has a multitude of benefits for students.
“I always joke that these are just flags in a gym, but the benefits go beyond that,” she said. “I can say from experience that my participation in this made me more confident and taught me skills such as time management and how to be a leader. I’ve also been volunteering with teams since I was in high school, and it’s helped me become a better teacher and listener.
Garcia said she wanted to create a program at Horizon High School that would always work to be the best version of herself.
“Learning from the mistakes of previous years and reflecting on them to progress, I think is a very good goal,” she said. “I also hope that we will continue to be competitive and gain more experience, gain more respect as a respectful, mature and prepared team.”
“WHERE DID HE GO?”
As part of the Bridgewater Middle School show, students use the Observer’s Big Red Box to bring their performance to life.
The show, “Where Did He Go?” involves the performers playing Lois Lane and reporting as if Superman is missing.
Students use newspapers as props and a ground tarp decorated as a newspaper.
They will perform March 12 at University School and March 26 at Daytona Beach.
REMAINING HORIZON OF HORIZON
- March 12 at University High School
- March 25 at the Daytona Beach Convention Center
- Date to be determined: performance of friends and family
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