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Golden Anniversary: Viewettes still kicking high

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Story by. Joycelyne Fadojutimi

Longview High School (LHS) Viewette Director Debbie McGowan assumed her post in March, and learned her precision drill team will be 50 years young. She determined to make the occasion a special one.

The Viewettes perform at pep rallies and football games, and every spring they hold the Viewette Revue to showcase the dances and styles they perform. The difference between the Viewettes and cheerleaders is that cheerleaders cheer at pep rallies and sporting events. Since 1964 the Viewettes have been dancing with precision.

“We are very excited about the 50th anniversary,” said McGowan. “This is the first time that the alumni have danced on the field for the public. They have previously danced in the Revue.”

The Golden Anniversary festivities included a luncheon with an impressive attendance of more than 200. This included the members of the 1964 Viewettes–who performed their old routines flawlessly. McGowan was delighted with how the booster club decorated the luncheon, as well as with the several guest speakers who entertained the audience with tales of their dancing days and their own directors. A slide show chronicled the troupe’s 50 years.

It is a real chore to become a Viewette. Sophomores, juniors and seniors audition yearly after completing an application procedure. They learn to dance to jazz tunes, perform as a kicker team, and showcase their talents before a panel of three judges, many fall by the wayside.

Naturally, the vast majority of the 40 to 50 Viewettes are young women, but ten years ago one Bryan Smith became the first-ever male member of the team. Another young man most recently tried out unsuccessfully.

LHS 2007 graduate LaDana Moore always knew she wanted to follow in so many of her family members’ boot steps and become a Viewette. She was just six years old when she attended her first mini-camp after practicing with her relatives who were former members. She made the team as a high school sophomore. She later said that if she had not made it she would have been crying herself to sleep. Nonetheless, she still cried when she made the line.

“I practiced all night long with my mom and sisters watching me,” she said. “That day it made me more proud to be a Lobo.”

Thirsting for more than mere membership in the troupe she worked yet harder to become an officer, making it as a junior on her second try. She took on such officer duties as:

* Choreographing routines for the Spring Viewette Revue.
* Stand routine.
* Leading stretches.
* Responsible for being a team leader.
* Maintaining an unblemished personal reputation in her school and community.
Overseeing her own squad and/or company.

1964 Viewettes making their debut
1964 Viewettes making their debut

There is more.

Bailey Nance, a senior at LHS is the current Viewette’s Senior Captain.

She has been dancing since age 3. Being in a drill team is her family tradition. Her mother was in a drill team and her sister, Lindsey was a Viewette. Also, she has other reasons for being a Viewette. “I wanted to continue my career in dance, be involved in what I like to do, especially in my high school.”

Being a Viewette helps them develop leadership and team skills while gaining first class experience. For all of them, it is a great experience.

LHS Viewette History

1964-1965- Inaugural year the first line director was Helen Rotondo. There were 54 line members and 4 officers. Helen was married to band Director D.J. Rotando, he arranged “Hello Dolly” the Viewettes signature dance routine.

1965-1966-change to the derby hat

1966- Viewettes appear on the cover of the Longview Telephone Directory and the first Viewette Revue was staged.

1969-Pam Taylor becomes director

1971-Viewttes perform in Dallas at Arkansas-SMU game

1980-Viewttes perform for Miss Texas and Miss America

1995- Viewette Officers perform in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade

2002-Bryan Smith became the first male member of the Viewettes, then became the first male officer a year later

2004-Viewettes perform in Disney World

2012- Viewettes perform at the Cotton Bowl

2013-Heather Gee becomes director

2014-Debbie McGowan became director, Viewettes will perform in Chicago McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day parade, 46 line members and 5 Officers

The Viewettes have been holding an annual Viewette Revue every spring since 1966.