When the American Legion Post 283 Auxiliary members heard that an extracurricular program that supported the arts might be cut at Palisades High School, they voted to provide financial aid.
On May 10, a check for $1,000 was presented to the color guard team by Auxiliary treasurer Nancy Niles. She told students that “we support the arts, and we support you.”
Color guard members were appreciative. Allison Wyant, who has been coaching the group at PaliHi since 2018 explained the importance of this extracurricular, which often is not given large contributions.
“Color guard gives an automatic sense of community,” said Wyant, who graduated from PaliHi in 2015.
She belonged to color guard for three years and with the band for four year, where she played saxophone. She attended Santa Monica Community College and received a two-year degree in fashion design and is current working on her degree in that same field at Cal State Long Beach.
In addition to working on her degree, she coaches guards at PaliHi, El Segundo and Santa Monica High School.
“Most people have never done color guards,” she said, “but when you come to the high school and join, you automatically have a support system.”
Generally, she’s at the school coaching two to three times a week and the kids work three to four hours a day on the routines.
This past year, “I made the costumes that the band and color guards used,” Wyant said.
The Auxiliary had heard about the financial dilemma through a well-written story by color guard member Chaz Plager, “Color Guard Adds to Band Performance: Worry the Program will be Cut” which was printed in CTN on April 27.
He said when he came to Palisades High School from Paul Revere, he felt like he didn’t fit in with any particular group.
Plager said a friend in the marching band had recruited him, “knowing that I had previously liked theater and that the color guard was asking for people with choreography (dance) experience to join.”
Plager said he didn’t know what color guard was, but learned the group marches with the band in the fall using flags, prop rifles, and prop swords to convey a theme through dance and acting, though there are usually never any lines spoken.
“This sounded totally off the wall, but I was intrigued,” Plager said, “and so I signed up. Easily one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
Color guard has been at PaliHi – on and off – since 1963 and has two seasons winter and fall. Fall season involves performing alongside the marching band. One can spot the color guard performing at football games. The team is under the supervision of Tyler Farrell and coached by Allison Wyant and Ceasar Avina.
Both seasons have competitions, where color guards are judged. Plager said, “it is, without exaggeration, probably some of the most fun I’ve had during a performance. Being able to time your movements with the music and pulling off a flashy move and hearing the crowd cheer for you is a truly unique experience.”
It was then that Plager explained that Covid had impacted the school’s budget, which meant the program was in danger of being cut. “I ask you to please donate to the team,” he said. “Even the smallest amount can help and goes a long way to keeping this wonderful program alive.”
On Tuesday, he told members of the auxiliary, “When I find something new I like that I’m passionate about, I don’t want it to go away.”
Plager spoke on Tuesday about his efforts to try to save the program. “I can’t let that happen, if there’s something I can do.”
(Editor’s note: CTN spoke to the band director Tyler Farrell, who said that about $15,000 is needed to pay coaches, for equipment and costumes, and for transportation to competitions. “There is a chance the program could be reduced or – worst case scenario – be dropped next year,” Farrell told CTN in an April 18 email. Farrell said people can donate by going online https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx?name=E332764&id=23 or mailing a check made payable to PCHS with “band in the memo line to: Attn. Tyler Farrell, Palisades Charter High School 15777 Bowdoin St. Pacific Palisades, Ca. 90272.)