By Dani Palmer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
“In war, there are no unwounded soldiers” reads one side of Anderson High School’s Winter Guard tarp.
This year, the guard is tackling the heavy topic of post-traumatic stress disorder, trying to deliver an important message as it performs the theme “The Wounded,” developed by guard’s instructors.
Senior Jessi Ferguson’s father, Brantley Ferguson, was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 1996 and still has nightmares, she said. She hopes audiences leave with a better understanding of the severe anxiety disorder.
“I hope they learn to respect vets and those who come back and suffer from PTSD,” she said.
Soldiers never really leave the war zone, she added, and they come back with scars that are more than physical.
Senior Kelsey Short has also had family in the military.
“It feels nice to do something very politically relevant,” she said. “To shed light on it (PTSD).”
In addition to raising awareness, the girls and boy of Winter Guard have a lot of fun with the extracurricular activity.
The guard meets three times a week to practice — 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays — and has grown to 17 members — up from nine last year.
Junior Darren Gatewood has wanted to do Winter Guard since he was a freshman and said the girls dragged him in to try out.
“It feels, like, unique,” he said of the experience. “My whole life I’ve been very unique from other people. It’s a way for me to express myself.”
It’s a nerve-wracking but exciting one, and Gatewood said he really hopes people see the hard work they’ve put in.
Senior Clara Tremaine has been in guard all four years and said “it’s been amazing and fun” and an experience she’s going to miss. She had to fight off the urge to cry before their very first performance before an audience of family last week at Erskine Elementary.
“I’m nervous, super excited, scared,” Tremaine said. “But when I perform, everything else goes out the window.”
She’s watched the program grow and said more members just “makes the show look bigger and better.”
Ferguson plays in the band but never had the time to join guard until this year.
“It’s like a big family, kinda,” she said. “We support each other.”
And it’s been a more intimate experience with the audience she can better see the faces of, she added.
Short is enjoying her full weapons duty and getting to be out front. Members use either rifles and sabers (the weapons group) or flags when performing.
Short compared the two groups to peanut butter and jelly, saying they’re good separate but even better together.
This year, the group has four competitions and will be hosting its own on Saturday.
Band director Brad Milleman said they’re still looking for volunteers and that it will be a “huge, huge opportunity to bring in some money” for the group.
He said he’s “very pleased, especially with so many new members,” at all the work the guard’s put in.
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AHS Winter Guard contest schedule