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Channelettes standing strong amidst the virus

2020-2021 Channelview Channelettes
Front Row L to R: Assistant. Director Heather Keith, Historian – Alma Gutierrez, President – Pierjah Johnson, Jr. Captain – Erriel Hollis, Jr. Captain – Rocio Lira, Jr. Captain – Emily Zambrano, Jr. Captain – Lizeth Negrete, Vice President – Krystian Martinez, Secretary – Yasmin Sanchez & Director Suzanne Hutchins Director. 2nd Row L to R: Anakaren Guerra, Cassandra Guajardo, Sierra Robinson, Madeline Manzanarez, Dericka Reese, Arlyne Ramales, Amanda Perez Negron, Jasmine Gutierrez, Gisell Cruz, Yajaira Magana & Isabella Moreno. 3rd Row L to R: Kathy Le, Dia’mond Gallien, Ruby Arredondo, Amarie Jones, Joselyn Mora, Jaanai Suarez, Jennifer Ozuna, Violette Ruiz, Amaris Cervantes, Gisell Aguilar, Emily Cardoza, Brianna Bustos. Back Row L to R: Alexis Rivera, Celeste Gutierrez, Glory Nguyen, Naima Botello, Kate Mayorga, Miguel Morin Ana Amaro, Sydney Caesar, Vivian Martinez, Isabel Robles, Alizea Morales & Yareli Trevizo. (Photo by Allan Jamail)

By Allan Jamail

Channelview, TX. – May 5, 2021 – The 2020- 2021 Channelview ISD Channelettes and Channelette Reserves have been working very hard for a year, dancing with all the new changes the deadly COVID-19 virus brought them.

Due to the great teamwork and experience of the Channelettes Director Suzanne Hutchins and Assistant Director Heather Keith, the young ladies and gentlemen student dance team never experienced any serious health setbacks from the Corona pandemic. Hutchins has been the dance team director since 1990, 31 years. Keith, a former Channelette dancer under Hutchins, has 5 years of teaching dance instructions in dance levels I, II, III & IV.

These two ladies work together like a precision team, always putting the health and safety of the students as their top priority. Parents and the CISD Trustees should be proud to have them overseeing the dancers.

Hutchins said, “The pandemic has made our team approach normal everyday situations much differently. We have overcome so many obstacles since March of 2020. The seniors deserved so much more than what they got, we tried to make every event special, even if it was done virtually.”

“Our COVID year started in April when we realized that we would not be going back in person for the 2020 school year. Our first dilemma with the dance team was how to make ‘senior dedication night’ special if we weren’t able to gather. We traveled to each Channelette and Steady Soulz (Boys Dance Team) senior’s house and presented them with a flower, a yard sign of the seniors, playing the high kick song, and taking pictures of them. It wasn’t the traditional way to honor our seniors but it was special,” Director Hutchins said.

Channelettes tryouts looked different. Students learned the tryout dance from a video and submitted their performance for judges to view virtually. After an unusual ending, starting the New Year was an undertaking. Football season would not be the same. Instruction, rehearsal space, formations for dances took on a whole new set of challenges. Social distancing, wearing masks, sanitizing, and providing a safe environment was a top priority. Class procedures and rehearsals changed, checking temperatures daily and online assignments for virtual students. Issuing uniforms and equipment, dancing and dressing would require constant sanitation due to cross contamination and all the while keeping a 6 feet distance.

Talking with students and their parents or playing team bonding games had to be analyzed and approached differently. The directors and students together had to be flexible.

“I love my job and my family, I spend way too much time at school with my student children, but I feel it’s my job in life… hopefully to set an example for the Channelettes and to encourage them to set their goals high. We’re proud of how our students have endured, we feel they‘ll come out of this more resilient and stronger,” Hutchins said.