High School team to host Columbia River Winter Arts Invitational on Saturday, Feb. 24

    The St. Helens High School winter guard is gearing up for the season and preparing for its next home competition Saturday, Feb. 24.

The Columbia River Winter Arts Invitational serves as one of the winter guards main fundraisers and provides an opportunity for the school to host other teams from around the state. Eighteen teams, including St. Helens, will be at the competition next weekend.

At its first competition of the season in early February, the St. Helens team placed fourth out of 14 teams. The competition is also referred to as the "season premier," where teams are required to perform if they want to attend championships in March.

Winter guard captain and sophomore Alana Saul said the performance made her feel good about the upcoming season.

"I am nervous, but also excited because I'm very proud of how we placed at our premier," Saul said. "I'm still a little nervous because we have about half our show to learn, but I'm confident that with the group we have, that they will able to pick it up really easily and be able to project it to the audience."

During the season, the winter guard team holds three-hour rehearsals twice a week in the middle school gym. The team runs through drills, flag tosses and takes time to go through dance moves that are incorporated into the show over time to work out any performance kinks.

This year's show features an upbeat, driving pop song, which is titled "Oracle." Sophomore Shelby Turcotte said winter guard shows tend to be free flowing and expressive because the team has more control over performance music.

"We're notorious for upbeat, bass-heavy songs," Turcotte said, adding that much of that influence comes from their coaches, who like to pick spunky music that draws the audience in.

Turcotte said that while she is excited and nervous about the upcoming competition, she is confident in this year's team and its potential. Learning more skills — like rifle tosses — later in the season will give the team even more of a competitive edge.

"I think we are a very strong guard at the moment considering we placed fourth out of 14 and we've only finished half of our show," Turcotte said, "But we haven't event gotten to rifles yet, so just incorporating that is going to make us stronger."

In addition to competing at the invitational, the winter guard team and a group of parent volunteers host the event, showing other teams and students where to go for warmups and performances, working in the concession stands, selling programs and helping in a variety of other ways throughout the day.

The Columbia River Winter Arts Invitational will be held Saturday, Feb. 24, at St. Helens High School. The preliminary rounds of the competition start at 11 a.m. and finals begin at 3:45 p.m. St. Helens will compete at 12:26 p.m. Awards will be presented at 7 p.m. Entrance is $10. Concessions will be available, including the St. Helens Grill food truck. Students will also sell flower and candygrams at the event as a fundraiser.

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