photo by Teagan Krewson
“A lot of people say we’re like a cult, actually,” junior Rylee Oldham said, as she looks out from the office window to the 40-odd girls laughing in unison and dancing in impeccable formation without missing a beat. She’s right – the girls are in perfect unison, almost creepily so.
The “cult” Oldham referred to is the Dripping Springs dance team seen at the pep rallies and football games, or the Hi-Steppers. Although the team has existed for a little over 30 years now, this year marks Oldham’s first as an officer, and the changes have not gone unnoticed.
“I have a lot more impact on the other girls on the team,” Oldham said.
According to Oldham, an officer position involves a much higher level of leadership than being a traditional line member.
“Every single day is just a new challenge, and that’s what I love about it,” Oldham said.
Amongst the team, a sense of togetherness and belonging shows in the way the company interacts with one another.
“Every single one of these girls is just so supportive of each other,” Oldham said, smiling. “They’re all so unique and special in their own ways.”
Oldham credits the Hi-Steppers with helping her feel welcome after moving to the school the summer before her freshman year.
“I knew no one, and I joined Hi-Steppers, and I was so surprised to see that everyone was so welcoming,” Oldham said. “It already felt like I had 40 best friends.”
Oldham recalled her overall experience in her sophomore year and how it foreshadowed her becoming an officer.
“I remember thinking ‘Oh, gosh, I want to be an officer so bad,” Oldham said, laughing. “And now that I’m actually an officer…it’s just crazy.”
She credits her excitement about the group in large part to Tracy Neef and Terri Williams, the teachers in charge of the team.
“Ms. Neef is so encouraging, and you can really tell she cares about the group,” Oldham said. “And Ms. Williams is so good at helping us improve.”
Even though Oldham loves every facet of Hi-Steppers, she definitely has a favorite part.
“It’s when the little girls look up to us and say they want to be a Hi-Stepper when they’re older,” Oldham said. “That’s definitely the best part.”
Written by Madeline Tredway, Staff Writer
Q&A with Hi-Stepper Bella Nichols
Why did you pick dance as an extracurricular?
In middle school I didn’t want to take athletics. Instead I took dance and then I kind of just like went on with dance.
What are the most memorable experiences of being on the team?
My most memorable is when we went to this parade in Dallas and they made us dress up as peppermints. They made us practice at 3 a.m. and it was freezing outside.
How do you feel about the growth between your members and yourself?
We all bonded very well. I can definitely say that we can do a lot more dances along with tricks. The longer you’re on the team, the more you can see the growth.
What are the weaknesses and strengths that stand out to you?
I think, sometimes one of our biggest weaknesses is thinking we can’t do something. This year, we received harder choreography, and after a lot of hard work, we accomplished things we couldn’t do.
Elaborate on the way performing makes you feel.
I‘m a little nervous, but when I start performing, I don’t even notice those around me. There’s a spark, and I just feel happy.
Reporting by Raegan Garibay