Sabres and silks

The Alhambra Source Youth Feed is investigating how the recession is affecting what local young people do with their free time. Victoria Gavia spoke with Jamie Nguyen, a captain of the color guard at Alhambra High, about how as costs increase they are working to pull together to make sure anyone who wants to can participate.

When did you join color guard and how has it impacted your life?

I joined freshman year and to this day it has pretty much dictated who I am. In color guard we use a five-and-a-half foot pole with a silk flag. We usually do a lot of tricks, tosses and spins with that. For our more advanced members they go on to our weapon line, which includes a wooden rifle and a sabre (a type of sword). The things you learn here you can carry on to your life, like the sense of determination and always trying to do something better, and always focusing on what the matter at hand is.

What are the general costs of being in Colorguard and how does the team manage such costs?

Just to compete, it's about $550, very expensive. We're always doing fundraisers at a Shakey's night or selling catalog stuff, we do bake sales, and ask for sponsorships.  Our boosters always try to help and they're great at helping us achieve what we need. We also do raffles at concerts, which many groups don't do. We wouldn't be here without the help of such wonderful, dedicated parents.

What are some strategies color guard has to save money?

Being in color guard made me really wary of money, so our team is quite frugal. We go to extremes to not waste materials, like reusing white tape when fixing our flags and equipment. 

Do you think these expenses have deterred students from staying throughout high school?

When people leave the team, in all my four years of guard, it’s never been because they couldn't pay, it's because they weren't happy. If you love something, you'll find a way to stay in it. We have a handful of members who have trouble meeting our monthly fees but they work it out with our band in order to slowly pay it back. Our band has a policy in which we don't turn away people due to their lack of money.

Has the recession affected your participation in color guard?

Individually, I wouldn’t say it has affected me much, but as a team I can see that we are forced to pay more fees. So sophomore year when our program started picking up and the recession kind of got worse it really hit our team hard. Recently they imposed a new $350 fee upon our color guard. A lot of the girls are contemplating what to do because they do private corps during the summer and it costs around the same, so many of them are putting that on the back burner. I don’t know how that’s going to affect the members on our squad since we have had increased fees every single year, but I don’t want to look forward to that.  

Interview has been edited and condensed.

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