A Freshman Perspective: The First Year of SDA

“My biggest takeaway was making new friends and creating great memories I know I’ll have forever,” freshmen Bella DeRosa reveals about her first season on the Student Dance Association’s White Team. “After all of my performances I felt so proud of myself and everyone around me… like I accomplished something amazing that I had worked really hard for.” Each SDA performance, which took place on the nights of May 4th, 5th, and 6th, was an enormous success. Tickets sold out on Friday and Saturday, and supporters for both Blue and White crammed together on the bleachers. For that reason, it’s easy to see that SDA is immensely popular within the Wayne Valley student body and the general public; yet the audience was only able to experience the final result. As the students who were a part of SDA know, months of preparation and endless practices enabled them to take the stage. This year, many freshmen joined the organization to continue a family legacy or to fulfill a longtime dream of their own, and each newcomer found the experience incredibly rewarding.

Joining the program was daunting for many ninth graders, as they became a part of a team that had already bonded so closely in the past seasons. Some were unsure of themselves or afraid that they would mess up the dances. Blue Team member Maddie Grant recounts, “Especially being new to SDA, I didn’t know what to do, but the girls were so welcoming- the other dancers helped you with everything.” Before long, their team became more like a family. DeRosa adds, “Everyone is so kind and supportive. The upperclassmen really inspired me- everyone encouraged each other!”

Not only did the freshmen form close friendships with the upperclassmen, but they are grateful to their captains for cheering them on and creating the dances that they will always love. Freshman Grace Steiner says that Blue Team overall Alyssa Mistretta, “was an absolutely amazing overall. She was funny and passionate and energetic!”, and she adds, “The captains were so sweet and fun! They were understanding and helpful, and I always looked forward to practice.” In this way, White and Blue were not so divided after all- both were lucky to have strong leaders that enabled them to reach their full potential.

The memories made this year, the girls agree, are truly unforgettable. Whether it was having dance parties at practice or blasting music on SDA Monday, each student is sad to see the season end.

However, everyone can agree it went out with a bang! While some freshmen had never stood before an audience so large, many others previously performed in dance recitals, cheerleading competitions, or other events. DeRosa notes that “the performance was all pretty much a blur”, but she remembers “having so much energy, and cheering, and just being so happy!” Steiner mentions, “I was afraid I would mess something up… however, once I got on the gym floor, for probably the hundredth time, everything just seemed to flow naturally! It felt amazing to do the dance with them and show the crowd what we had accomplished.”

Although freshman Madelyn McDermott did not participate in SDA, she was excited to attend all three performances, exclaiming, “SDA was full of positive energy and friendly competition! [It] was seriously fun to watch and I can’t wait until next year.” The enthusiasm of the students emphasizes how, White and Blue aside, the event truly brings the Wayne Valley student body together.

At the end of the show, a winner had to be chosen, and Blue’s talent was undeniable. Steiner recalls, “When I found out we won, I was ecstatic. We were determined and motivated, and we killed it out there! I can’t help but smile when I watch the videos of us jumping up and down… because we did it!” For the Blue Team, it was as if all of their hard work had finally paid off; they entered the competition as an underdog due to White’s success in previous years. Everyone on the White Team is undeterred, as their accomplishments are just as significant: every girl on the team performed their heart out, and White Jazz won first place as a result. The girls on both teams are looking forward to their sophomore season to work for success again .

Advisor Mrs. Sebak is just as enthusiastic as the students: “I love SDA Season! I think [it] is a wonderful way for ninth graders to experience the heart of Valley… The hard work and commitment necessary to create an amazing production are valuable life skills that can be useful at any point in their lives.” Overall, the advisors are grateful for the opportunity to work closely with the dancers and all of SDA board members. While organizing the competition, the adults hoped to impart their own wisdom and capabilities upon each student.  

As the 2019 season closes, the freshmen of SDA are endlessly grateful to their advisors, overalls, captains, teammates, and everyone else that made the show possible! “[My teammates] taught me that although I might be nervous about something, there will always be someone to support me and have my back,” says DeRosa. With the support of her team, she views this year as nothing short of a victory, with or without a trophy.

Congratulations to everyone involved in SDA, from Wayne Valley’s talented veterans to the freshman making their debut in front of the crowd! The student body is so proud of everyone who contributed to the production, and we are looking forward to next year!