One my suggested topics was thoughts on my time as a "Conchette." For those of you who don't know what this is, I must first tell you that it's pronounced "Konk-ette" as opposed to the "ch" sound at the end of conch. The Conchettes are a dancing drill team at Key West High School. So here's a little history to get you caught up. Before you laugh, please keep in mind that our high school mascot was the conch, but that's another post for another day.
Back in the 1940's a precision dance drill team was formed at Kilgore College in Texas. Their choreographer, Denard Hayden, came to Key West (I believe on vacation) and created a similar dance drill team at Key West High School. This group, called the Conchettes, have been a long tradition of pride for over 50 years in Key West. Each summer, the Conchettes have a summer training camp, called Hayden Week, and for many years, Denard Hayden would come down to Key West and teach the team all of their routines for the upcoming football season. Dancing at half-time at football games is the Conchette's major performances during the school year. They also march and perform at parades, festivals, and have a spring show called Conchette Capers. For many years being a part of this drill team was an honor and privilege for me. My understanding is that in the last 10 or so years, the team has dropped in numbers from the 50+ while I was a member to under 10 now. My hope is that they will once again find popularity and pride and their numbers will increase.
I tried out two times, and was crushed when I didn't make it as an entering freshman. My father was a teacher at the high school at the time, so you gotta hand it to them for not playing favorites. I was so sure that I'd make the squad. I've taken dance lessons most of my life and consider myself an accomplished dancer. The fact that I didn't make it made me more determined than ever to make it the next year. I stretched and practiced everyday. I'm happy to report that I made the squad. Just making the squad didn't mean that the stress was over. Before each football game, all Conchettes had to audition to perform. Not everyone made it. That would include me. My first year was bumpy.....I didn't dance all of those games but it did make my resolve more determined. My second year on the squad I performed each game. At the end of the year, I was awarded Most Improved and still have the trophy. It was a proud moment for me. The next year I was chosen as an officer. Those were proud times for me. Lots of people laugh about the Conchettes...either because of the name or the idea of it all, but I have to say that my most meaningful moments in high school were spent performing for others. If I could go back and do it all over again, I would in a heartbeat. Plus, I looked great then so that's an added bonus.
This is me during my senior year in my uniform.
I looked so cute!