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Portrait

The Student News Site of East Lansing High School

Portrait

The Student News Site of East Lansing High School

Portrait

Winter guard prepares for a night at the museum

Readying+their+flag%2C+Reid+Hoogstraten+%289%29+performs+during+the+homecoming+football+game+alongside+the+marching+band+and+the+color+guard+team.+Hoogstratens+participation+went+further+than+color+guard+from+also+being+a+member+of+the+winter+guard+team.
Photo by Maggie Carney
Readying their flag, Reid Hoogstraten (9) performs during the homecoming football game alongside the marching band and the color guard team. Hoogstraten’s participation went further than color guard from also being a member of the winter guard team.

Since 2017, East Lansing, Grand Ledge and Haslett students have come together to create one winter guard team that participates in a season spanning from December to March.

The age range consists of freshmen to seniors and being at a different age group changes the perspective on the activities and relationships of the team. Ava Gonzales (11) is among the upperclassmen on the team and she really enjoys the inclusion of different schools.

“I like meeting new people and I like working with different people,” Gonzales said. “It’s nice to make new friends.”

While some members like the idea of having different schools together, other newer members like Reid Hoogstraten (9) have noticed a small disconnect amongst the team.

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“I don’t know a lot of kids from the other schools,” Hoogstraten said. “It’s different, and there’s three distinct groups of kids who were on East Lansing guard, Grand Ledge guard and Haslett guard.”

One of the biggest differences between winter guard and color guard is that winter guard involves a little less marching and a little more dance than color guard.

Another one of these differences is that winter guard involves three different kinds of props while color guard sticks with just one. 

“It’s flag, rifle and saber,” Gonzales said. “In marching band you don’t use rifle and saber. [We choose] depending on our show and what we think will look good and what the differences between them are.”

Flags, rifles and sabers all have their differences that play a major role in determining which one is going to be used.

“A saber is similar to a sword and a rifle has a woodblock that’s taped onto it to look like a gun,” Gonzales said. “Then there’s a flag.”

Not only does winter guard involve the use of different tools, but it also includes using them to complete different tricks that vary in difficulty. One of these tricks Mya Gonzales (9) believes will be the hardest, and that one is the 45 toss.

“There’s two different kinds of 45 tosses,” Mya said. “There’s one handed and two handed, the one handed you throw up and you have to catch it behind your back with one hand and the two handed you catch behind your back with two.”

They learn their routine in one weekend of December for their first competitive performance in January, where the team comes together to compete against other school districts. 

“We spend all day in a gym and we learn our show,” Ava said. “It’s two days, so we learn everything in those two days.”

After they have learned their routine they continue to practice together every Monday to perfect their performance. 

This year’s routine theme is “Night at the Museum,” which involves each member portraying a section of the museum. Two of these sections include the Romans and George Washington crossing the Delaware painting. All of this leads up to the focal point of the dance.

“The performance has a big hit called our flag feature,” Ava said. “It’s very dramatic and based around our soloist as the night guard wanders around the museum while everything comes to life.”

Once competitions have come to an end they get ready for their showcase, further preparing the same routine.

In the showcase, all of the winter guard teams come together and show off all of the skills they’ve learned over the season. Here they are individually awarded for their achievements. 

Though the color guard team has a larger size of 14 people, the size of the winter guard team is relatively low in numbers when it comes to members from East Lansing.

“I really hoped that we’d have a bigger team then we have now, but I’m really happy with everybody,” Mya said.

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About the Contributor
Cielo Gutierrez, Staff Writer
Cielo Gutierrez is in the class of 2026 and is a staff writer and photographer for Portrait.  This is her first year on staff as a sophomore.  Cielo's favorite thing about journalism is how different people's voices can be heard and how their stories can be shared.   When she's not in the newsroom, Cielo plays the piano when she gets a burst of inspiration, it's very soothing for her.

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