Well before dawn this morning, 50 members of Wildcat Wranglers country and western dance group, 3 school administrators and 33 family members pulled away from the Lake Highlands High School parking lot, bound for DFW Airport. The students were headed for Washington, D.C. to perform at festivities associated with the Inauguration of the 45th President of the United States.
The Wranglers will dance at the Texas State Society’s Black Tie and Boots Ball, and they know they aren’t the first Wildcats to enjoy the honor. Wranglers have been dancing at the event for the last 5 inaugurations – that’s 20 years.
Despite an action-packed, multi-day agenda of touring Washington and seeing sites, dancing at the ball is the experience senior Kelli Fletcher is most looking forward to.
“I absolutely love performing and will be ecstatic when surrounded by such a large crowd,” Kelli told me. “It is such a fantastic opportunity to get to perform at a presidential inauguration and something that hardly anyone can say they have done.”
“Do I have to pick just one?” joked Erin Moudy when asked what she was anticipating most. “First off, I am a huge history nerd, so I am super excited to tour the city, visit museums and get to attend the Laying of the Wreath Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. I’m also super excited, as I’m sure the rest of the team is, to perform at the Inaugural Ball. After the nerves wear off, it is going to be such as fun night with a great atmosphere, and I can’t wait to hopefully leave some people speechless with our performance.”
The students will also enjoy a nighttime monument tour, visit the Capitol, tour the White House, check out the Newseum, visit the Holocaust museum, see the Smithsonian and go to the Spy Museum.
Both girls were too young to vote in the November election (Fletcher turns 18 while on the trip) but said they followed it closely.
“I was in a Dual Credit Government class first semester,” said Moudy, “so keeping tabs on the election and analyzing each candidate, the debates and more was a must for me. I do believe that, if you are a Trump fan, it may add a little more excitement. Overall, no matter who you voted for, I do believe the thrill of our participation and the honor of being chosen truly does rise above politics.”
Other than a quick airport layover, Fletcher has never been to D.C., and Moudy’s experience there has been limited to youth soccer tournaments.
“I have never actually had the time to tour the city like we will get to do this week,” Moudy confessed. “The closest I’ve gotten to major sites has been on a Segway. That was a lot of fun, but this will be so much better.”
In addition to learning new dances and rehearsing lifts and twirls to prepare for their trip, the students did lots of fundraising to enable the team to travel. They sold bags, held an auction and hosted a raffle – all of which were successful thanks to the generosity of the LH community. Their experience, they are convinced, will make all the efforts worth it.
“A trip like this, especially with the tours and places we get to visit, will, I believe, shed a different light and give us different perspective on our nation and its history,” continued Moudy. “It is one thing to read about these places and events in a book, but getting to study them and experience them up close is a completely different story. As our teachers always say, ‘learning can be fun!’ I know the team and the sponsors, whom, may I add are Government and U.S. History teachers, will have an enormous amount of fun in D.C., but I am sure we will come home having learned a thing or two, whether we realize it or not.”
In the fall, Fletcher will study neonatal intensive care nursing at the University of Oklahoma, and Moudy will major in kinesiology/exercise sciences as a member of the University of Texas women’s soccer team.