It’s Thanksgiving Day, and while the majority of Americans are at home enjoying turkey, members of Denton High School’s Color Guard are performing with country star Kenny Chesney.
More than 90,000 people scream as Chesney joins them on the field. At that moment, all of the countless hours spent practicing turn into mere memories as the adrenaline begins to flow. It’s show time.
Many share the dream of being able to showcase their talents to a national audience, and on this day at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, the Denton High Color Guard got to live that dream. The squad was invited to perform during the halftime show of the Cowboys game thanks to the University of Texas at Arlington’s color guard director, who knows the DHS color guard director, Justin Good.
“Well, I was contacted by UTA’s color guard director and was so excited when he asked us to perform at the Cowboys game,” Good said. “He knew the Cowboys’ halftime coordinator and knew that they were looking for local groups to perform.”
Good was also excited because he was able to perform alongside his students — he is a part of the Black/White Gold Color Guard, an independent color guard organization.
“It was great to share the experience with them,” Good said.
Good wasn’t the only one who enjoyed the experience. Junior Shelby DuPree joined the Denton High color guard this year, and she feels every second of work up to this point has paid off.
“When I first heard that we might be able to perform at the Cowboys’ halftime show with Chesney, I literally started jumping up and down,” DuPree said. “Being a first-year member, it really motivated me even more to come back another year.”
The group dedicated its entire Thanksgiving break to practicing for the show.
“We practiced about six hours a day for most of Thanksgiving break,” DuPree said. “But it was definitely worth giving up the break for — it was a once-in-a-lifetime event.”
Denton High Color Guard captain Carmen Bautista had the opportunity to lead the group during the show. The senior regarded it as a learning experience and something she will cherish for the rest of her life.
“Performing during the halftime show for the Dallas Cowboys meant the opportunity to better myself with a group of pros,” Bautista said. “It was an amazing experience that I will never forget.”
Bautista hopes that the experience will motivate the younger members to stay in color guard, and to show them that it’s more than just twirling flags.
“Well, as a group we weren’t officially recognized at the game itself,” Bautista said. “But it showed the younger members in the group that there are bigger things to strive for in color guard.”
And Bautista credits the entire performance to Good.
“I can’t be more grateful to have such an amazing director like Justin,” Bautista said. “He’s given us such amazing opportunities and experiences; I couldn’t imagine being directed by anyone else.”
The color guard looks forward to competing in the North Texas Color Guard Association Circuit competition, where members found success two years ago, taking home the silver medal in their class. However, regardless of how they do, Good just wants them to enjoy color guard as they go along.
“I want more than anything for them to have a memorable experience in color guard,” Good said. “I want them to look back [at] it and remember color guard for the rest of their lives.”
Even though Bautista credits Good for the students’ success, Good has a completely different outlook — he says it’s all them.
“We’re an up-and-coming group, and they deserve more recognition for their hard work and dedication,” Good said. “They’re an extremely talented and unique group that is doing something aside from the norm, and I love that I get to direct them every day.”
TAYLOR BROWN is a senior at Denton High School and a participant in the Record-Chronicle’s “Speak Out Loud” writing program for student journalists.