Please allow the HHS Color Guard to Continue through the 2021-2022 Season and Beyond.

Please allow the HHS Color Guard to Continue through the 2021-2022 Season and Beyond.

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Andrew Schmitt started this petition to Principal, Hillsboro High School, Hillsboro, IL. Principal Heyen and

My name is Andrew Schmitt, I am a 2008 Graduate of Hillsboro High School in Hillsboro, IL. While attending HHS, I was a member of the Band. This Petition is what I feel that I need to do to help the Color Guard program continue on. My Wife is one of the coaches, and I just want to get their story out. I have been absolutely inspired by seeing several Guard members grow in their skill.

Overview: 
After a Covid-Struck School Year 2020-2021, Principal Heyen of Hillsboro High School in Hillsboro, IL. has decided to cut the HHS Color Guard due to "Lack of Interest". However, she had gone against her original stipulation of waiting until tryouts to see the overall turnout at the Tryouts on May 10th, and has decided to place the team on “Hiatus” for the 2021-2022 School Year as only 5 had signed up in the offices, yet almost 14 in total have expressed interest between Online and the "Sign-Up sheets" the Schools had (in a year of remote learning students and COVID-related quarantines).

History of the HHS Color Guard:
The Color Guard has been a staple of HHS since 1975, according to one commenter who stated she was part of the first group that year. They have lead the Band in Parades, Joined them at Football Halftime Shows, and even Won first place (best guard) in past Parade-Style Marching Band Competitions!

A Typical Year of Guard:
Usually, tryouts for the next season/school year are conducted in May of the prior School Year before School lets out for the Summer. The tryouts consist of several practices over the week, during which all members are taught the basics of how to Twirl whether it's a Hoop, Flag, Baton, Rifle, or Saber, and then given a routine to perform (usually the typical School Song or Fight Song routine). Those that wish to try out for Captain, assuming they have made it back on the guard, have separate tryouts right after the main tryouts in which they are required to develop and perform a self-made routine. Results are given during the same day/session.

Over the Summer, When the Band Director selects the music that the Band will be performing Throughout the next Marching Season, the Coaches begin developing a routine to the new music, choreographing different moves (drop-spins, tower-tosses, etc.) to match the music. They usually begin practices about a Month or Two before Band Camp Begins. This is to warm up, refresh what they are taught during the tryout sessions, and begin work on the new routines, tweaking them here and there.

Once Band Camp begins, usually around 3 to 4 weeks before the School Year they do marching drills with the Band and get the "block" together for Parade-Marching for the Annual Old Settler's Queen Parade and Main Parade, where they perform with the Band. Eventually, once the school year begins, they work on the Football Halftime Field Show. The Coaches have no idea where the Band Director will place the Guard Members until the director gives them the Field Show Diagrams. During my time in Band at HHS, the Director had the Guard Move in sync with the rest of the band. In recent years, however, after that Director had Retired, the guard has been left mostly off to the side, or behind, the Band.

The Current Coaches and the First Two Seasons:
Coaches Stephanie Miller and Stephanie Schmitt began Co-Coaching the Color Guard in the 2018-2019 School Year. They found out that they got the job late in the game, with very little time to prepare before everything started up, but they tackled it nonetheless. This year, on top of getting a late start, with tryouts only less than a Month before Band Camp began, they got the guard in shape to perform with the Band in time for the Marching Season. During the Season, and School Year, they spent time Raising Funds for new Uniforms and Boots.

The Second year (2019-2020), however, saw a decent-sized guard, with several members developing their skills over the year. They also fundraised for New Sabres, Rifles, and Hoops, doing regular face paintings during the Football games, holding Rummage Sales from Community-Donated Items, whatever would raise the funds necessary to get the old aged equipment to a decent quality. They also joined the HHS Marching Band at the first Tournament that the Band has attended in almost a Decade. The Band won First Place, but the Guard, not being integrated into the movement with the Band, did not place. It was planned that they would once more integrate the Guard in the Band's Movements on the Field the next year. COVID-19 shut everything down after the entire Normal Color Guard Season was over. At the end of this school year, they lost half that guard to Graduating Seniors, and were looking to have a total number of 6 for the 2020-2021 school year after Remote Video Tryouts were conducted. The Band Director also left the school district as He was offered a Position elsewhere, Thus HHS had to hire a New Band Director for 2020-2021.

Over the summer, the coaches were able to use extra funds from the previous year, before fundraising activities were shut down, to purchase brand-new Flags and Poles.

2020-2021 The Year of COVID-19:
The Third Year (this past school year 2020-2021) was a struggle for the Guard as well as everyone else in the World. With COVID, no one was certain if, or how, things would look. Meetings were held socially distanced, or virtually, Tryouts were conducted via Video Submissions the previous year, with no chance to actually teach any of the Guard Members in person. In all, after Tryouts, they were set to have 6 Members on the Guard. One member had to quit before the normal season would have begun due to medical reasons. Another member quit because there was a disagreement with tryout results from the Neutral Panel of Judges during tryouts. The Usual Season was basically canceled as Parades, festivals, and the like were not being held. The Guard performed with the Band only two times in the Fall. Then, all teams were to cease practices and performances as it got closer to Winter. Not letting this COMPLETELY stop them, they were able to virtually organize a Color Guard Showcase for when (hopefully) restrictions would lighten up, just so the Guard would have one more show to perform before the end of the School Year.

Once COVID restrictions began lightening up in February 2021, the coaches, alongside the Captains, had two weeks to choreograph two new routines for the late Football Season. During this time, they also were able to place final touches on the Showcase. See this link for the full Live Recording of the Color Guard Showcase, but be sure to sign this petition first!

Sometime during this timeframe, the new Band Director and Principal Heyen had a meeting without the Coaches involved, in which a requirement of a minimum number of Guard Members for the next year was discussed. On March 18th, 2021, The Band Director informed the Coaches of this meeting, and what was discussed without their involvement or input. It was said that they would see how many showed up for tryouts the week of May 10th through May 15th, 2021. If there were between 6 and 8 at a minimum, they would be allowed to have a season next school year. The Coaches had a meeting with Principal Heyen on Friday, April 30th, 2021 to discuss this with Her, and how bad an idea it would be to make a decision like this given the extraneous circumstances due to the pandemic. There, they discussed how unfair it was to cut a historical program without even allowing them a real chance to implement some of the ideas they had to grow the guard such as:

  • Eventually Implementing a Junior High Guard, beginning in Grade 6. This would increase the quality of performances at the High School Level Exponentially.
  • Expand the High School Guard Season to Encompass a Typical Winterguard Season.

When told about Winterguard, Principal Heyen noted that she had never heard of such a thing, even though she had two students tryout and perform with Echo Independent in Alton, IL. During their premiere season 2019-2020 (which did get cut short). Principal Heyen called it a “Matt Performance”, referencing the Showcase that the Guard had Performed, which matched a typical Winterguard-style performance. The Coaches made their case, and Heyen agreed to wait and see how many turned up to the Tryouts the Week of May 10 through May 15th.

Principal Heyen contacted the Coaches on Thursday, 5/6/2021, to inform them that she was Placing the Guard on “Hiatus” for the 2021-2022 School year. The email that she sent claimed that it was to allow the new director time to focus on “growing the band to a participation level that can engender interest in and sustain a Color Guard Team.” Remember, this Band just placed first at their first competition in a DECADE the year before. Different Director, Same Amazing Band. I’d just like to see the Color Guard Become Amazing Alongside the Band.

Ideal Outcome:
Members of the Hillsboro School District 3 Board, Principal Heyen, and Director of Bands, Please allow these Coaches and the HHS Color Guard to Continue through the 2021-2022 Season and Beyond so they can begin to grow once more alongside the Band.

Along with continuing to augment the Band Program, allow the Color Guard to be reclassified as a separate entity entirely from the Band, so they can expand the program separately from the Band Program and enter new territory in the form of a Winterguard as well.

This year was not a good year to judge what programs to keep or cancel “based on interest”. There has also been interest expressed on social media, which the administration has not counted, that, according to estimates, point to a Guard size next year that would be almost double (around 14) of what was initially required. Had Principal Heyen given them the initial deadline that was agreed upon, of waiting until May 10th to see the turnout, I believe they would have breezed past this.

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