Principal Maricruz Hernandez was delighted.
“I love it. This program is a highlight of Channel Islands High School. It’s a gem,” she said. “When you see such dedication of students to any program, how can you not support it?”
Channel Islands has six spirit teams: all-male and all-female hip hop dance, coed dance, banners, short flag and drill squads. The teams competed in the United Spirit Association competition March 25-27 at the Anaheim Convention Center and the Miss Dance Drill Teams USA competition March 31-April 2 in Irvine.
The teams put in hours of practice before and after school and during the evenings. Lloyd Lucin, 17, a senior and captain of the all-male and coed dance teams, is planning to attend Stanford University.
“I think I got into Stanford because of the leadership I’ve shown on the all-male and coed teams,” Lucin said, admitting his 4.5 grade point average did not hurt, either.
Lucin said he is able to maintain high grades despite 7 to 7:45 a.m. and 3 to 9 p.m. practices Mondays through Fridays, with a full day of practice on Saturdays, because of discipline. “I practice time utilization,” Lucin said. “You’ll find us at lunch doing homework, and we help each other out.”
Channel Islands Activities Director Brett Zielsdorf, who has been overseeing the dance program for seven years, said he can’t name favorites among the classes of dancers he’s seen go though the program, but this group seems particularly motivated.
“Collectively, the leadership has been phenomenal. The organization and dedication to academics — they’ve held all members to a higher standard,” Zielsdorf said.
Lucin said the all-male dance team’s win in the national championships stemmed from the group’s “supercool” Ninja routine. Members donned black outfits and hoods and performed martial arts moves made into a dance.
“We get a standing ovation when we do it. It’s a real crowd-pleaser,” Lucin said. The choreography was done by Mark Raquedan, an alumnus of Channel Islands who was a member of the all-male squad in 2000 and devotes his time to helping the current crop of kids.
Jacqueline Paz, 17, co-captain of the all-female and coed team with Charmaine Feria, 17, said being on the teams is a family tradition for many Channel Islands students.
“I have five members of the family who have been in short flags, and I did all-female instead. I just like to dance more,” Paz said.
The short flags team, which has six members, also took first place.
“We had tight routines, hard practices and the heart for it,” said Danice Vasquez, 17.
The teams last year often had to practice outside on the asphalt, rain or shine, but this year, the school administration opened the gym, with teachers volunteering to oversee practices and parents offering food and support.
“Our faculty volunteers on weekends and after school to help supervise their effort,” Hernandez said. “These teams bring a professional level of dedication to their routines that makes them national champions. When I first saw them, it was an amazing experience — the heart they have. I really wish to showcase it to the community.”
Miss Dance Drill Teams USA
- All-female: first place, high-point winner in medium division; overall international champions.
- All-male: first place, high-point winner in medium division.
- Coed dance: first place.
- Coed hip hop: first place, high-point winner.
- Short flags: first place in one-flag and two-flag routines.
- Drill team: third place in small military.
- Banners: fourth place in small open division.
United Spirit Association
- All-female: second place, medium hip hop.
- All male: national champions in large all-male division.
- Coed dance: second place, coed dance division.
- Short flags: national champions in one-flag and two-flag routines.
- Drill team: first place, open small military drill division; second place, medium military division.
- Banners: fourth place, prop division.