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Central Square Varsity Winter Guard Receives ‘Expert’ Ranking from WGI’s International Open Class Virtual Finals

Central Square Central School District’s Varsity Winter Guard received an Expert Ranking in the Winter Guard International Open Class Virtual Finals in April, with only two other groups out of 33 placing higher. The finals included groups from 17 different states.

“They definitely worked like crazy and were very happy to be in the gym,” Winter Guard Director Andrew Graziano said. “The team was promoted to open class last year but never got to compete, so they were thrilled to be part of this competition.”

The group’s 18 students began rehearsing in November and, after the Holiday break, returned to the Central Square Middle School gymnasium to record the performance entitled “A Stage of My Own” for the virtual competition. They recorded weekly starting in February for the local circuit and for WGI.

The theme, he said, was based around everything to do with performing arts and touched on preparation, making mistakes, and bowing at the end of it all

Graziano and his wife Tammy have directed the district’s Winter Guard teams for the past 17 years. He said they are especially proud of the Central Square team’s success as being one of the only scholastic groups in the United States to use both face coverings and 12-foot physical distancing.

“They didn’t share equipment and they didn’t dance with each other,” he said. “We went above and beyond to make sure we kept our kids safe.”

Central Square Music Director Ron Haldeman said the Winter Guard’s accomplishment of scoring only one point away from the “master” ranking was a success for the students and district.

“This was an awesome accomplishment for the kids who have worked so well together and have put in an amazing effort in a very challenging season,” Haldeman said. “Congrats again to all!"

The Winter Guard’s show design, staging and choreography came together through the efforts of James Allen Mann and Ryan Bronner. Additional staff included Ali Sivers, Cyndi Lowenstein, Hannah Carpenter, Paris Graziano and Amber Groff.

The performance this year was dedicated in memory of CSSD alumnus Benjamin Springer.