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Gilbert ready for State Dance Championships

Three days. More than 250 teams. More than 600 routines. And more than 5,000 competitors.

Welcome to the Iowa State Dance and Drill Team Association (ISDTA) State Dance Championships, the largest of its kind in the nation. It all kicks off Wednesday at Wells Fargo Arena and Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines and concludes on Friday.

Now in its 47th year of existence, the ISDTA State Dance Championships features team competitions, as well as solo performances, and Gilbert High School will be represented in both. Under the direction of Coach Amanda DeLancey, the Gilbert dance team — Taryn Hicks, Reese Anderson, Sophia Bleich, Kirra Heaberlin, Tatum Heaberlin, Danielle Vogel, Delaney Anderson, Jacey Ordal, Ellie Francom, Sarah Fedderson, and Allison Schrader — will compete six times on Thursday. It will showcase its Jazz and Prop routines and all four of its soloists — Reese Anderson, Schrader, Hicks, and Bleich — will perform. On Friday, the Tigers will return to center stage for their Kick routine.

The work began way back in the summer with open gyms three times per week. The official season kicked off in August, and over the past three months DeLancey has pushed her girls to new heights. Meeting every Sunday evening for three to four hours, plus at least once a week before school, the squad has made dance a priority, which is what it takes to score well at state.

“Pretty much all of them are involved in something else, but they prioritize this, which makes it incredible,” DeLancey said. “I never have to ask them to give 100 percent and we haven’t had any attendance problems with practice. That’s the biggest tell of how hard they work.”

And do they work hard.

At a recent Sunday evening practice, it was routine after routine after routine … you get the picture. One routine would end and the girls would collapse to the ground inside the GHS gymnasium, and yet they’d all be smiling as they did so. And after a short break to catch their breath and grab a drink, it was on to the next routine. It’s this type of enthusiasm and dedication that has DeLancey so optimistic in the days leading up to state.

“It’s been said that a two-minute kick routine is the equivalent of running a 5K at a five-minute pace, and they’ll do it five times in a row,” she said. “The don’t care, they just do it again. So it’s been great.”

DeLancey and her dancers hope the countless hours of work when no one was watching translates into high scores later this week. Will it be easy? Hardly. Then again, it shouldn’t be easy.

“My goal is that we can put our best routines out on the floor,” DeLancey said. “I think we have come so incredibly far … Division I ratings across the board is really our big-picture goal, but then a trophy would be a cherry on top for us.”

Dance has become an incredibly popular activity at schools all across the state, and many teams possess individuals that dance outside of school as well. It makes for an extremely entertaining three-day state event, but also a difficult three-day journey to break into the hunt for a top-three finish in each of the divisions.

“You have the whole range of dancers,” DeLancey said. “It’s just a really incredible experience for the girls, and we love going and representing Gilbert. To make Gilbert proud, that’s our goal.”

After the state competition, the Gilbert dance team will turn its attention to its next endeavor — performing at the ReliaQuest Bowl (formerly known as the Outback Bowl) on Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, in Tampa, Fla. Gilbert was invited to take part after attending a Just For Kix camp and impressing this past summer.

“They saw the attitudes and hard work ethic of the girls, and then we got the formal invitation,” DeLancey said.

Seven Gilbert dancers will travel with DeLancey to Tampa form Dec. 28 through Jan. 3. The girls will perform prior to the game and at halftime inside Raymond James Stadium. DeLancey performed at the bowl game when she was in high school, so she knows firsthand the excitement that comes with the opportunity.

“My hope is that we can continue to take the girls every four years so that every girl that is out for four years gets the chance to go,” she said. “I’m really excited to take the girls and give them that opportunity to meet dancers from around the country.”

Good luck this week, Gilbert dance team!

7 musicians selected for All-State Music Festival, 3 others alternates

Seven members of the Gilbert High School band will take part in the All-State Music Festival this weekend, and three other band members will serve as alternates for the festival.

After auditioning at Indianola High School on Oct. 22, the following musicians were selected for the festival:
•Gretchen Mizerak, Clarinet, Orchestra (second year)
•Laurel Mizerak, Carinet I, Band (second year)
•Jonah White, Clarinet I, Band (third year)
•Kalyn Schmidt, Bassoon, Orchestra (third year)
•William Wadsley, Bass Clarinet, Band
•Jessica Stoker, Trumpet I, Band (second year)
•Nathan Lee, Cello, Orchestra

Selected as alternates were:
•Jenna White, Flute
•Aldo Escalera, Flute
•Jonathan Stoker, Horn

Gilbert’s students will take part in chair auditions Thursday evening, followed by rehearsal on Friday and Saturday. The concert will be held inside Hilton Coliseum in Ames at 7 p.m. Saturday night. It will be broadcast on IPTV during the evening hours on Thursday, Nov. 24 (Thanksgiving Day) and again on Saturday, Nov. 26.

Congratulations to all of our all-state members, alternates, and band director Byron Tinder. We are so fortunate to have such talented students in our school!

Little Women hits the GHS stage on Friday, Saturday

After nearly two months of rehearsing, Gilbert High School’s musical production of Little Women is a mere four days away from hitting the stage!

The 18-member cast — with another 15 students as part of the ensemble and many helping out with production — will step onto the stage in front of a live audience on Friday and Saturday inside the Gilbert High School Auditorium. The doors will open at 6:30 p.m. both evenings, with a curtain time of 7 p.m.  Tickets will cost $6 and can be purchased at the door or in advance HERE. All seating is general admission.

Based on Louisa May Alcott’s life, Little Women follows the adventures of sisters Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy March. Jo, who will be played by Jessica Stoker, is trying to sell her stories for publication, but publishers aren’t interested. Her friend, Professor Bhaer, who will be played by TJ Barbier, tells her that she has to write more about herself and so, begrudgingly, Jo weaves the story of herself and her sisters, and their experience growing up in Civil War America.

Musical director Zach Hackbarth says Little Women embodies the complete theatrical experience and those in attendance won’t be disappointed.

“Most people are surprised to hear that Little Women has a musical adaptation since the most popular versions of it are obviously the original book and the various movie and TV versions,” Hackbarth said. “But when I stumbled upon it this summer after exploring a variety of other options for the musical, I knew that was the best choice because it fit the current students in our theatre and choir programs so well.”

Hackbarth says rehearsals have gone well since the cast was finalized in early September. Vocal music teacher Tanner Stutzman also plays a vital role in the production, as he and Hackbarth split time working with the students to prepare for the show.

“We’ve got a great team of actors and crew as always, but this year we get a full bit band,” Stoker said. “Mr. Stutzman and the rest of them are doing such a good job with the music and I think the songs are going to be really fun.”

Said Arfa Firoz, who plays Aunt March: “I’m most excited about putting on an amazing show with some immensely talented people. Everyone has worked so hard on the show and I can’t wait for the audience to see it.”

In addition to the countless hours put into perfecting the performance by the actors, Hackbarth says the students who work behind the scenes are just as vital to the production.

“I start off with the hardest-working student production team I could ever ask for, which includes Vanessa Rivas-Pena and Lane Maxson as stage managers, as well as Taryn Limoges as a dramaturg/rehearsal prompter,” he said. “We also have a team of 16 students on the crew, doing things like running lights, adjusting sound levels, moving props and furniture, or helping with costumes and make-up. All of them help the show run seamlessly.

“When it comes down to it, I just want everyone attending to appreciate how much of a collaborative effort it is to put on a show like this, and that the people they don’t see are equally as vital to the success of the production as those who are on stage.”


Jo March (2nd oldest sister): Jessica Stoker
Meg March (oldest sister): Anna Tallman
Beth March (2nd youngest sister): Carly Dolan
Amy March (youngest sister): Jenna White
Marmee March (mother of sisters): Jamie Anderson
Aunt March (great-aunt to sisters): Arfa Firoz
Professor Bhaer: TJ Barbier
Mr. Laurence: Evan Goetz
Laurie Laurence: Aldo Escalera
Mr. John Brooke: Charlie Mortimer
Mrs. Kirk: Ella Hatfield
Clarissa: Isabel Platts
Braxton: Spencer Weydert
Rodrigo: David Dunn
Knight: Maks Koziel
Hag: Sophie Chitty
Troll: Lydia Weiler
Rodrigo 2: Leah Mostek

Kelsey Ayers, Alyse Beyer, Jo Heimer, Kaylee Higgins, Megan Lennon, Makayla Mills, Bri Olson, Kaya Robison-Engeman, Emrick Ryan, Cece Schwager, Andrew Soupir, Audrey Spiess, Joanna Stoker, Danielle Vogel, and Olivia White.

Gilbert Community School District

Gilbert Community School District

103 Mathews Drive, Gilbert, Iowa 50105  |  (515) 232-3740