Keeping Up with the Drill Team


Katie Margen receives the head captain role from Kelly Palmer, as previous head captain, Justin Dailo, shows his support.

Lizbeth Ochoa, Staff Writer

Kelly Palmer is the AP Literature teacher and Dance/Drill director at Glendale High School. While being a substitute teacher a few years back, she realized that this was what she loved to do. While applying for the job at Glendale High for a teaching position, she was told that she would have to take on the dance classes, although she had no interest in doing so. 

Ms. Palmer now claims it was “a happy accident.” She loves the complex conversations about life that she has with her students, along with bringing out the best in her dancers.

Katie Margen is a seventeen-year-old senior who happens to be a four-year member of Glendale High School Dance/Drill Team (GHSDDT). She is a two-year captain and now the team’s head captain. This position allows her the privilege of working with Ms. Palmer, constructing daily rank texts, and connecting with the team and the coaches. Katie used previous head captains, like Malik Olalia, Justin Dailo, and Loren Te, as a motivation to run for this position, and she is now grateful to be able to help her team.

Directing a team of approximately 50 students can be challenging. However, Ms. Palmer believes that the hardest part of the job is having to please everyone, like her students, teachers, parents, administration, her family, and herself with every decision she makes. The hardest decisions for Ms. Palmer are “when I have to make a change from tradition.” For example, during her first few years as a dance coach, her team did not have a competitive hip hop squad, but now they have six different ones. 

As a four-season team, GHSDDT already does so much in a year, like their show season, their training season, their competition choreography season, and their competitive season. 

A typical Zoom practice for the GHS Drill Team.

Now with the pandemic, things have been quite different for the team. For instance, they did not take a break in the spring, online practices were treated as if they were in the dance room, and they were provided a handful of master classes. Ironically, the team has been more productive now, than they would’ve been had they been in the dance room.

In times like these, “the energy and vibe has shifted in terms of being alone all the time and in front of a screen,” said Katie. “I am really proud and grateful they found a reason to get up and dance every morning.”  

Katie has noticed the motivation grow and has witnessed the team take a big step on their own. She tries to keep her team motivated by making sure each meeting is light-hearted. 

Our current situation can be hard on many people, but it has a different impact on the senior class, for obvious reasons. Katie mentioned that she hasn’t talked to the seniors as a whole, but she would like for them to remember all the accomplishments they have had together since freshman year. 

“I’m glad they are as nice as they are,” added Katie. “They took everything negative and turned it into the best thing possible.”

As the competition season comes closer, there are so many feelings to process. Ms. Palmer says that she’s obviously very excited to return to campus, but at the same time, she is concerned for the safety of her students. She’s afraid that when the time comes, it’ll be a challenge to balance both of those expectations. By contrast, Katie feels upset about losing much of her senior year, but she continues to be eager to return. 

In the midst of this situation, Palmer finds that the silver lining is that, although the team misses their second home, they’ve hopefully gained a newfound gratitude for what they have.