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The County Chronicle

The County Chronicle

Rising color guard program wins East Coast championship

Flowers thrown from glittering flags rain down upon a forested landscape of trees and vines. For a second, you forget that they’re just props, and you’re transported into nature as soothing music hits your ears.

Supervised by Chris Focer, Téa Gagliardi, Madison Nuckolls, and Mika Sario, this is the color guard winter program who won the Keystone Indoor Drill Association (KIDA) championship. Many members are excited as efforts to build up the program pay off. 

Top row from left to right: Chris Focer, 8th grader Chloe Tilghman, 6th grader Kaity Peterson, 7th grader Tien Dang, sophomore Amelia Cunnington, 6th grader Wesley Bokel, 6th grader Bella Harding, freshman Natalie Lund, freshman Bahia Omais, junior Kai Rothwell, 7th grader Greta Stultz, freshman Lily Kingsolver, Madison Nuckolls. Bottom row from left to right: 7th grader Ryan Baughman, freshman Naia Settipani, freshman Avery Bennett, 6th grader Brooklyn Sales. Winter Color Guard poses after winning the color guard championship. (Photo courtesy of Bahia Omais)

“To come out on top and win that gold medal after all that hard work felt incredibly rewarding,” Focer said. “It was the ultimate payoff of everything that we worked for.”

Many of the members had previously been part of the marching band during their national championship win during the fall 2024 season. However, some speak of the personal nature of the winter guard championship. 

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“It’s a lot more stressful, but it’s also more rewarding, personally, because it’s just color guard and we’re showing that without the band we can also succeed,” captain and junior Kai Rothwell said. 

They also speak to perfecting and expanding their skills as they gain experience.

“You have to actually be so physically strong to be able to get the flag as high as you want, or to get the rifle as high as you want,” co-captain and freshman Avery Bennett said. 

In color guard, there are three skills you can achieve. The most basic is flag, then rifle, and finally saber. Dance choreography is also important for further visual aspects. 

Besides working on the physical skills, they must also improve the appearance, such as costumes, makeup, props, and special effects.

“There’s a point [in the show] where we even had flags and we packed little flowers into the flag so that when you threw the flag into the air pedals go out everywhere,” Focer said.

Not only did they win the east-coast championship, but this is also the first year of the program since the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to take a break, making this year all the more special.

“When you world, it pays off,” Focer said. “We suffer, and we bleed, and we cry for this activity, but at the end of the day, when we look back, everything has been absolutely worth it.”

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About the Contributor
Scarlett Ashford, staff writer
Scarlett Ashford is a freshman at Loudoun County High School, and this is her first year as a staff writer for The County Chronicle. She enjoys playing softball, has been playing piano for the past 7 years, and is 4th chair French horn for the Loudoun Symphony Youth Orchestra. She spends her free time writing, reading, listening to rock music, and watching horror movies.

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