New non-profit color guard sets open house
By Dana Delgado
A new non-profit organization, Paradox Performance Ensemble, was officially launched last week to provide opportunities to anyone 12-22 years of age, male or female, interested in participating in precision color guard training and competition.
The program incorporates flags, rifle spinning, sabers, and dance along with music to produce dynamic performance routines.
An Open House is scheduled from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday, April 21, at RockPointe Church on 170 CR 214 in Liberty Hill. Paradox Director Cheryl Stephens said they are excited to welcome new participants to the program and invite everyone to the Open House to learn about the organization and get a glimpse of the performances through various dance demonstrations.
Paradox was founded by a group of local parents after the Liberty Hill Independent School District decided to discontinue the high school color guard program this school year.
Parent Theresa Oswalt said her daughter Sarah had tried everything in high school until she found color guard.
“She loved it and was so passionate about it,” Oswalt said. “She blossomed. I never imagined seeing her out there performing. She made many friends and they all performed as a family.”
Another parent, Amanda Garner, said it was an “awe” moment when her daughter McKenzie first saw color guard members perform on the football field.
“It gave her the opportunity to expand and express herself,” said Garner.
Undeterred, the parents, spearheaded by the efforts of Theresa Oswalt and Amanda Garner as well as former volunteer high school color guard director Cheryl Stephens, decided to continue the program on their own by establishing a non-profit organization that would oversee an independent color guard. Graciously and in good faith, the school district loaned equipment to the newly formed independent team.
“I think it is fantastic that an independent group was formed,” said John Perrin, LHHS Band Director and school district Fine Arts Coordinator. “Mrs. Stephens is a great teacher. This gives students an opportunity to focus on color guard. I just know it will be successful.”
Perrin explained that a review of the high school programs last year led to a decision this school year that “changed the format” and incorporated both dance and color guard.
“We went from a traditional color guard to a dance team,” he said. “The end goal is to build our numbers in trying to make as many opportunities as possible for our kids.”
According to Stephens, most of the students who had been participating with the school-sponsored program made the move to the independent team.
The group trained for three to four times a week since January, two months behind schedule, to prepare for the winter competition season.
“It was not easy, but everything fell into place,” she said.
The team won every contest in its new class of competition despite its limited preparation and ended the winter season as the 2018 Texas Color Guard Circuit’s Independent Regional A Champions by dazzling judges with its precision performances.
“The kids worked so hard,” said Stephens. “They were nervous but determined. We are excited about the future.”
The ultimate goal is to qualify at the regional meet and compete at the World Color Guard Championships held every spring in Dayton, Ohio.
“Forming an independent group has always been a dream of mine,” added Stephens. “Besides training and competing, we will be active in the community and participate in a number of activities including the annual Christmas Parade.”
This summer, two training rehearsals a week are scheduled. In October, auditions are planned for the performance team, the junior team, and the support team. Stephens said that no one will be left out as there will be a place for everyone interested.
Stephens, who had been directing the program at the high school, will be coaching and directing the independent team. She will be assisted by her daughter, Ellice Morgan.
Stephens has over 40 years experience with the color guard. She said she got her start in California where she was a “color guard kid” herself and then went on to coach hundreds of students while winning various championships.
During the 2015-2016 school year, Stephens approached LHISD school officials about overseeing a program. She got the opportunity the following school year and directed it until last fall. Under her leadership, the high school color guard was promoted to a competition level, won awards with the field show, and placed sixth at state.
“It’s a passion of mine,” she said. “I like turning the kids into superstars!”
As an independent group, the organization is seeking help from the community. While they are thankful that Duckworth Insurance, RockPointe Church, and Courage Cheer and Dance United stepped-up to meet some immediate needs, the group is seeking a larger, gym-size facility. Volunteers, donations, and community sponsors are also greatly needed.
For more information on the group and its activities, visit www.paradoxguard.com.