Welcome to the Tempe Union High School District
On February 1, 2015, after more than 40 hours of rehearsals, 200 TUHSD students had the experience of a lifetime performing in the Super Bowl 49 Halftime Show starring Katy Perry. Strict NFL rules prohibited them from revealing their participation before the event. On behalf of the Desert Vista High School Company Dance Team and Corona del Sol High School Marching Band, two students share what it was like.
Our [IN]CREDIBLE Experience at Super Bowl XLIX
Desert Vista Senior Chloe McCurley
I still receive the same four-word question: “What was it like?” I have yet to come up with an answer that properly defines all of my emotions and thoughts from this unforgettable experience. From the first announcement to the first high school rehearsal, I could not fully accept or believe that I would truly be participating in an event so large. Arriving at the first practice, I filled with excitement and curiosity as I picked up choreography, tried on different costumes, and tested out unexplained props. A chaotic stir of emotions occurred when I walked into the first stadium rehearsal. Hundreds of people were running, lifting, carrying and driving in different directions, all completing different tasks vital to the show. It was then that my curiosity and excitement shifted into admiration and gratitude. I admired the beauty of all the individual workers putting their time and effort into something so much bigger than themselves; I was grateful to say I was a part of it. Many don’t think about the entire creation of such extravagant shows and events, how something as great as the Super Bowl was put together by hundreds of everyday people who were happy to be an insignificant detail of the finishing piece. Witnessing the show evolve was definitely the best part of my entire experience. It showed me what greatness can be created when people come together.
Walking out to the field on game day was as surreal as it gets. Our school of casted Orbs ran in formation across the field to get to our beginning spots as the audience blinked with thousands of tiny finger light fans in their hands. I looked around at the filled stadium, and noted that the crowd of 63,000 was just a tiny fraction of almost 120 million people that would be tuning in to watch. As the Pepsi commercial kicked off the show, my fight-or-flight kicked in and all I could think about was doing everything I needed to do. I held my orb as still as possible as the Pepsi logo flashed through, I lowered in formation as Katy Perry passed me, and I exited quickly to change for the “Firework routine.” For the finale, DV Dance was fortunate to be part of the smaller cast of orbs who surrounded Katy as she flew above the stage. We had a choreographed routine with roll-offs and formation changes. As the only high school team cast for the finale, we helped represent our school and district. This once-in-a-lifetime experience would not have been possible without the love and care of Mrs. Caryl, our dance teacher.
Corona del Sol Senior Miranda Rodriguez
“Will all the band and percussion students come to the band room for a surprise.”
A surprise? As we all headed to the band room, a classmate from the student broadcast station told me it was so secret they weren’t allowed it to cover. So there we all stood packed and confused in the band room. We definitely were not in trouble. When we were given the news - the primary feeling was shock followed immediately by pandemonium - The Corona Del Sol Band Program was going to the Super Bowl!!
We left for winter break, only allowed to tell our parents what was to come. It was not an easy secret to keep. We are all teenagers in a world of social media. Not a single person in the program had any idea what to expect. We all waited with anticipation for the week of rehearsals leading up to the biggest performance of our lives.
For some rehearsals we had to leave school early in order to allow the busses to leave on a normal schedule for the rest of the schools in our district. The support from the district and our teachers was greatly appreciated. Each rehearsal ran relatively late and we received dinner compliments of the NFL almost every night. We were constantly given top secret information about the show. I think we all remember when we first saw the sharks dancing in a school gym, received our orbs, and when Katy Perry talked to us over her microphone. I’ll be honest, it has probably been four or five years since I was a Katy Perry fan, but I can proudly say that I love her now. The journey was nothing short of amazing. It was an honor for us to be chosen for this job.
Super Bowl Sunday finally rolled around. We were all pretty beat. Security was even crazier than before. The stakes were high and once we got inside the tunnel during the second quarter our nerves were shot. We held our orbs in a big glowing line that made us look like partying ants. When we got the signal in our earpieces that it was time, we ran out, got into formation, and looked out at all the people, celebrities, media, the flashing lights. Suddenly we were all a part of history. It still feels pretty good.
As students we would all like to thank our band director, Mr. Duplessis, our parent volunteers, The Tempe Union High School District, the NFL, Katy Perry, the halftime show staff, and everybody else who allowed us to participate in this adventure.