Winter Color Guard Returns To VHS


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The Verona High School color guard, with its bright flags and crisp routines, has been a fixture at football games and marching band competitions for decades. But once fall ended, the guard receded into the background of the busy life at VHS. No more: After a 40-year absence, VHS once again has a winter color guard to compete across the tri-state area.

“It’s something we’ve always wanted to do,” says Brittany Woods, who, with Brenda Lizarraga, is the instructor for the fall guard and the new winter cohort. “Winter color guard is just about the guard and is a good way to develop technique.”

VHS is a small school with a lot of activities competing for students’ attention in winter. Year after year, there weren’t enough students available to participate in winter guard. “This year, we discovered that we had many who were willing to commit,” says Woods. “Then the question became, do we have the means, space and costumes to do it?”

Woods and her team of 15 students are well on their way to answering those questions. Since they don’t perform with a marching band, they had to pick their own show music and chose Sia’s “Elastic Heart.” But winter guard is, for now, a pay-to-play sport, which means that the participating students needed to cover a bevvy of expenses. There were membership dues to pay to MAIN, the Mid-Atlantic Indoor Network, which sets the competition rules and schedule. After a bit of sleuthing on Amazon, they found costumes on Amazon that didn’t break the bank. Winter guards compete on a floor tarp, not a turf field, and that had to be purchased too. The new guard also needs to pay for its transportation to competitions.

If the guard gets on solid footing again, a lot of those expenses could be covered by the powerhouse Verona Music Parents Association (VMPA), which fundraises for fall band and color guard activities. But the decision to have a winter guard this year came too late for VMPA’s planning. While the guard has gotten some donations, it also set up a modest fundraiser–just $3,500–through PayPal and is halfway to its goal. Woods says that the community can also help with food donations on competition days, which can be very long, and showing up at competitions to cheer the winter guard on.

The winter guard’s first competition will be January 28 in West Orange and the students are hard at work building their show. “Guard is a mixture of creative expression and sports,” says Woods, “and the kids have shown so much improvement already.”

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected].


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