Kirkwood High School student newspaper

The Kirkwood Call

Kirkwood High School student newspaper

The Kirkwood Call

Kirkwood High School student newspaper

The Kirkwood Call

Step it up

The+Pioneer+Steppers+dance+team+was+started+last+year%2C+devoted+to+promoting+diversity+and+inclusion.
Ayla Kim
The Pioneer Steppers dance team was started last year, devoted to promoting diversity and inclusion.

Stomping and clapping, the Pioneer Steppers move in short bursts of powerful movements. Clad in red shirts and black pants, they move in unison as their peers cheer them on from the sidelines. Known for their cafeteria performances, the step team was created last year by Jocelyn Murray, junior, and Genesis Dixon, a 2023 graduate. Murray has been step dancing since fifth grade, and said she started the team to increase representation within the school.

“[There aren’t many] black people representing the school, and [forming a] step [team] was a way for black culture [to be] more recognized,” Murray said. “The step team represents inclusion. Anyone can be on the team — black, white, it doesn’t matter. But we want to be represented.”

The team meets every Wednesday, practicing one to two times a week. Murray said her favorite part about step is that the students get to run it themselves. She said she makes the tracks and does most of the choreographing, with each member contributing ideas and suggestions.

“We do all the choreographing, and everyone throws in a little share of everything,” Murray said. “It’s always a good vibe when we go there. A lot of [other teams, like] the cheerleaders and pommies, have great ideas, but they don’t get to share [them] because they’re under a coach. With step, we’re our own coach.”

Story continues below advertisement

[There aren’t many] black people representing the school, and [forming a] step [team] was a way for black culture [to be] more recognized.

— Jocelyn Murray

Zakiayyah Geralds, walking counselor, is the team’s supervisor. She sits in on their practices, coordinates performances and is also one of the sponsors. Last year was her first year at Kirkwood, and she said supervising the step team allowed her to build connections with the students.

“[I] have a good bond with the girls I [coach],” Geralds said. “[I love] seeing what they come up with [once they] put the routine together and seeing how hard they work and practice. Step gives them [an] outlet to express their creative side.”

Laila Person, senior, joined the step team last year. She has been dancing since she was four, and said step is an underlying passion of hers. She is looking to expand the team and their performance opportunities.

“It’s good to get away from all my homework and dance with a group of girls who are also passionate about [step],” Person said. “[The team] is pretty well organized, [but] I wish we had more people and more set dates [so] we knew when we were performing.”

Murray said she wants the step team to receive more support and publicity. She said while it’s fun performing at lunches, she wishes they could perform at more games and events.

“We want to be celebrated all around. Not just in the cafeteria [or at] one game,” Murray said. “By senior year, I want us to have a spot for Turkey Day and the pep rally. I [also] want practices during [the] summer like the pommies and cheerleaders. We just want to be more involved and recognized.”

Murray said she wants to break free of school traditions. She said the step team was created to add to the culture and diversity of the school, not to compete with existing dance teams.

“We really wanted to perform at Turkey Day this year, and they had enough time for it, but they wouldn’t let us because of tradition,” Murray said. “We just [want] to grow the school because it is so traditional, and there’s a chance for us to make a change. At the end of the day, we support [the cheerleaders and pommies], and we hope they support us because we’re not trying to take their spotlight.”

We want to be celebrated all around. Not just in the cafeteria [or at] one game.

— Jocelyn Murray

The step team will have another cafeteria performance at the end of the year. Additionally, they will be performing at the upcoming boys and girls varsity basketball games, the Ramona Miller BACC award ceremony in February and will have Black History performances at the elementary and middle schools.

“Second semester, if anybody wants to join, let us know,” Murray said. “We’ll see what we can do — we want everybody to be a part of it. We want to be as inclusive as possible because, the cheerleaders and the pommies, I do love them and I have a lot of friends on the team, but they’re very white-based and there [aren’t many] black or ethnic people on the team. We want to see more ethnicity and more races, you know, more mix of everything on every team.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Kirkwood Call
$1030
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Kirkwood High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Khadija Khan, editor in chief
She/Her Hobbies and Interests: tennis, reading, traveling, shopping and writing Favorite movie: Top Gun: Maverick Favorite Quote: "Happiness can be found even in the darkest times if one only remembers to turn on the light."
Donate to The Kirkwood Call
$1030
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Kirkwood Call Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *