Forest Grove High dance team raises $20K to perform on national stage

by: COURTESY PHOTO - The only Oregon dance team represented at the Holiday Bowl in San Diego, the Forest Grove High School Vikettes, performs Thursday night during the halftime show at Qualcomm Stadium. Rummage sales, spaghetti dinners, silent auctions, dances, Christmas craft selling and hundreds of practices have filled the year for the members of the Forest Grove High School dance team.

After receiving an invitation to perform in the half time show at the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl in San Diego, the Vikettes set their minds and bodies to preparing for the big day.

Months ago, freshman Elizabeth Burnard was excited to see how her first season on the team would unfold, and it turned out to be a milestone year for all involved.

Thursday night in sunny southern California, the Vikettes' hard work paid off when they danced at halftime in Qualcomm Stadium during a showdown between the Baylor University Bears and the UCLA Bruins.

“This is a huge opportunity for any dancer,” said Vikettes advisor Dustin Gutzman. “Something like this doesn’t come around that often. You usually are not invited, so when you are, you have to seize it.”

Their efforts started last summer, working and practicing in the heat during their school break. In August, the team was four months and more than $20,000 away from the coveted opportunity bestowed to the Vikettes, the only team in Oregon to receive an invitation.

The 35th annual Holiday Bowl featured teams from the Pac-12 and Big 12 conferences.

After the team’s funding took a nosedive and the Vikettes were forced to become a club due to school budget cuts, team members had to get creative to pay their own way.

Their summertime rummage sale was a success, receiving many donations from the community, but they were still thousands away from their goal.

The students held a silent auction and spaghetti dinner at the Forest Grove Elks Club in October, and sold Christmas crafts and homemade goods at a local tree farm in December as part of their last efforts to scrape together the necessary pennies to get on their way. by: COURTESY PHOTO - A Thursday morning parade in San Diego allowed the Vikettes from Forest Grove High School to strut their stuff before the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl football game, which featured the UCLA Bruins and the Baylor University Bears. The team raised $20,000 to make the trip and bask in the national television spotlight.

The Vikettes finally reached their goal, earning enough money for the whole team to make the trip without paying out of pocket.

The culmination of their hard work came Dec. 27 when the team performed in front of thousands and had the support of their hometown watching from home. The Vikettes were the only Oregon high school represented at the bowl game.

“Being able to perform at the halftime show of the Holiday Bowl is such an honor,” noted Cecelia Warner of Forest Grove, Elizabeth Burnard's mother. "It inspired everyone to reach this almost impossible goal.

"The dancers practiced their routine very hard for weeks. The Forest Grove community is proudly represented in San Diego this week."

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