Dance team will perform at the FHS pep fest — at least, for nowHaving the Farmington dance team perform at the high school pep fest is a longstanding tradition, but it is one that may end after this year.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
Having the Farmington dance team perform at the high school pep fest is a longstanding tradition, but it is one that may end after this year.
It has been a week of tough decisions and high emotions for a number of students, parents and even a few administrators. It started late last week, when dance team coach Bobbie Pasbrig contacted Farmington High School athletic director Jon Summer to find out when the dance team was performing during the homecoming pep fest.
Summer told Pasbrig the dance team would not participate in this year’s pep fest. It was a decision made by principal Ben Kusch, who had received other requests to participate in the event from non-athletic programs. In order to avoid hard feelings or the appearance of playing favorites, Kusch and Summer decided to take the dance team out of the pep fest lineup.
The dance team had performed in the pep fest for years because it was considered a school sport but three years ago, the Minnesota State High School League ruled that the dance team could only be a “sport” one season, like every other sport. Since most of the team’s competitions are in the winter, it became a winter sport. The fall program was taken on by community education.
The question before Kusch and Summer was less than simple to answer, considering the dance team had been a long-running part of the pep fest, but was technically not a fall sport. Added to that were the requests from other non-sport groups including, a bowling club made up of high school students.
“How do we tell these other groups no, but then tell the dance team yes?” Summer said. “We do want to stay consistent.”
But the decision did not go over well with the 65 members of the dance team, all of whom had been practicing for the pep fest for weeks before school opened. When Pasbrig brought them the bad news, “they all freaked out,” she said. “They were asking why.... They don’t think it’s fair because they perform at everything (in the fall), even though we’re not part of the school program.”
Pasbrig pointed out that even though the team is not competing right now, they are still highly visible at fall sports events. The dance team has performed at soccer games, and is also part of the half-time shows during the high school football games.
The decision was also unpopular with many of the parents of dance team members. Yvonne House said her daughter, a freshman on the team, “was just crushed” when she came home and shared the news.
House called Summer and asked to hear his reasons for the decision. While they were talking, Summer told her there was not enough time in the pep fest to cover all the fall sports teams and still allow the dance team to perform. When she asked what type of recognition athletes in the winter and spring sports received, Summer admitted there was no such opportunity, since pep fests are not usually held for the winter and spring events.
“It just felt like all their priorities go toward football, and these girls work just as hard,” House said.
Summer has had requests to perform during the football game half-time shows from many groups that are not affiliated with the high school. Most have been turned away, he said, because the dance team and the high school marching band have done those shows for years. And if he has any say in it, the dance team and band will continue to be the half-time performers.
“I’ve been pretty committed to letting them do that,” he said.
But, acknowledging the timing could have been better in notifying the dance team they would not perform, he and Kusch decided to meet the team half way — the ninth through 12th grade members will perform this year, but the seventh and eighth graders in the middle schools will not.
It is possible, though, this will be the last year the dance team will participate in the fall pep fest, simply because Kusch and Summer question whether it is fair to all of the other groups high school students participate in. There will be more conversation among school administrators and the coaching staff on the matter.
Summer said the school administration is considering similar pep fests for the winter and spring sports. Doing so would mean taking students out of classes, but Summer see the merit of recognizing those students and their efforts, as well.
If that were to happen, the dance team would perform during the winter event.