LUMBERTON — An act that’s been a staple at events and parades across Robeson County for two years is now homeless.
The Carolina Glitterettes, the only pom-pom and majorettes team in the county, can no longer practice at East Robeson Primary School, and are looking for a new home.
“The concern … is that the majority of my members are from Lumberton,” said Crystal Slater, the coach of the team. “Several of them have stated that if they have to go farther, they are going to drop out. That just breaks my heart that I’m going to lose some of my girls if we have to switch locations.”
The team, made of about 60 children, practices twice a week, once on Mondays at East Robeson in Lumberton, and again on Tuesdays at Peterson Elementary in Red Springs. They have performed at events like Child Abuse Awareness Day, Rumba on the Lumber, and others, as well as parades around the county.
“There hasn’t been a group around to do batons,” Slater said. “Baton is always something that has been amazing to people. It is not something that everyone has the skills and coordination to do, especially when they get into doing their tricks. … I think that draws people’s attention.”
The team is looking for a gym with high ceilings to practice for two hours once a week, preferably in the Allenton/Littlefield area of Lumberton.
Five-year-old Kennedy Scott and 8-year-old Katelynn Scott have been on the team for two years.
“For one the cost of it is very low,” said Kristen Scott, their mother. “A lot of places in our area, it’s very expensive to put your children in it. I have two children so it’s easier for our family to budget it. You don’t see a lot of batons and pompoms in parades. It’s a wonderful group to be in.”
The family will continue to participate as long as a practice area is found in Lumberton.
“It’s hard with gas and everything if it was out of our city,” Kristen Scott said.
Slater, who moved to Lumberton in 2006 from Virginia, participated in baton twirling when she was a child. She says it has many benefits for youths.
“They learn self confidence, self-esteem, poise, how to synchronize and stay together and work together as a team,” Slater said. “… They just get to showcase themselves and have a ball.”
Ten-year-old Anna Russ of Lumberton has been a majorette for about a year and a half.
“Usually she’s shy, but when she is in her uniform and has her baton she is a totally different person,” said Kim Russ, her mother. “It has helped her break her shell and put her in performance mode.”
Kim Russ said that Anna and her youngest daughter, 7-year-old Nadia Russ, love participating, but if the new practice location is too far away, they may have to drop out.
“I’d hate to,” she said. “… They learn new tricks every week and I know they love to perform for their mom, their dad and their grandma to see.”
Slater started the local group in 2009 after coaching a team in Virginia for eight years.
“Especially in Robeson County, there is a history of a lot of kids who are getting in trouble and gang activity and this is an activity where these kids are occupied, so they aren’t getting in trouble,” Slater said. “It’s something positive for them to get involved in and hopefully not resort to other things.”
The team is made of mostly girls, but does include two boys. Children ages 3 to 5 can participate in pom-poms, and ages 6 through 18 can participate as majorettes.
The group was disinvited from East Robeson apparently because someone complained about noise and trash being left behind. Slater said the group had been paying the school’s janitor $25 to clean up any mess they made.
The team accepts new members year-round. The cost is $5 a month for pom-poms and $10 a month for twirlers.
For information, e-mail Slater at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Features Editor Amanda Munger can be reached by phone at (910) 272-6144 or by e-mail at email@example.com.