The 2022-23 school year begins in just about a month. Summer is more than half over and most school groups, such as sports, band, dance and cheer have already begun preparations for the upcoming year.
The Chester High School dance team has been rehearsing since early summer vacation.
The 2022-23 CHS dance team features just 10 members, with seven returning dancers and three new recruits.
Paige Vasquez, the lone senior on the team, is expected to be a key leader on this year's squad.
"I am excited to see everyone grow as a team! We will be trying for another state qualifying score this year," Vasquez said.
The team includes juniors Amanda Kennon, Kaylie Springston, and Grace Welborn; sophomores Mirra Krieg, Tia Martinez, Whitney Sulser, and Summer Valleroy; and freshmen Hayden Cartwright and Annah Ahring.
The team is coached by Adrianne Kern, who is assisted by Emily Eggemeyer and Bailey Misuraca.
"We have a small team this year. During tryouts each tryout skill had a point value attached to it. The applicants had to reach a certain number of points to qualify to be on the team," Kern said. "Only ten girls reached that point total, so rather than compromise the quality and skill level of the team, we decided to just take the 10 who achieved that level of expertise."
Kern said the team has been putting in the work already this summer. "Our first performance was Monday, July 4, at the Steeleville Fourth of July Parade. We are now starting to prepare for the 2022 CHS Football season," Kern said.
"The team is very excited about this season's field show and performing with the 2022 Marching YellowJackets. The girls can't wait to get back on the field."
Even though the upcoming football season is a huge thrill for the dance team, they are also looking forward to basketball season and the 2022-23 competition season.
"The team is very excited about the upcoming YellowJacket football season, however they are really looking forward to being able to dance on the Colbert Gym floor in front of our basketball fans and even more excited about the competition season," Kern said.
"The girls are getting their minds set for pushing a little harder for competition this year as we plan on competing in two categories in 2022-23. We will compete in the open pom category along with adding a routine in the jazz category."
To gear up for the season, the dancers and coaches attended a team-building trip to the Sky Zone Amusement facility in Fairview Heights last week. Then on July 9 they had their own one-day dance camp to improve their skills and polish their moves.
As if that isn't enough activity for summer vacation, the girls have several other items on tap for the rest of the summer. The dance team is in the planning stage for its annual fried chicken dinner fundraiser. They also will host their annual kids dance camp early this fall, along with an end-of-the week kids performance at a CHS football game.
"We have been working very hard to be a good team this year. The girls are excited and are focused on their goal to earn a place at the state competition next season," Kern said. "The coaches are pleased with the progress thus far and look forward to seeing what they can accomplish in 2022-23."