- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—FERRIDAY — The Ferriday High School marching band has a rich history of getting bottoms out of seats and crowds roaring.

There is a lesser-known piece of that success that is just as vital and entertaining: the baton-twirling majorettes.

From left, Qutavia Johnson, Kay’leigh Hood, and Azyah White practice for the mascot’s team, the group of young girls training to be majorettes some day in front of Ferriday High School. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

From left, Qutavia Johnson, Kay’leigh Hood, and Azyah White practice for the mascot’s team, the group of young girls training to be majorettes some day in front of Ferriday High School. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Majorettes Shanique Hillard and Jalan Abron position the mascot girls before they practice their routine. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Majorettes Shanique Hillard and Jalan Abron position the mascot girls before they practice their routine. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Qutavia Johnson and Azyah White dance while performing their baton twirling routine during practice. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Qutavia Johnson and Azyah White dance while performing their baton twirling routine during practice. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Shanique Hillard holds Kay’leigh Hood during majorette and mascot practice. The majorette girls train the mascots in the art of baton twirling and also watch them between the hours of 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. throughout the summer. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Shanique Hillard holds Kay’leigh Hood during majorette and mascot practice. The majorette girls train the mascots in the art of baton twirling and also watch them between the hours of 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. throughout the summer. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Jalan Abron tosses up her baton while doing a 360-degree turn during majorette practice at Ferriday High School. The majorettes are a group of baton twirling girls that perform in front of the Ferriday High School marching band. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Jalan Abron tosses up her baton while doing a 360-degree turn during majorette practice at Ferriday High School. The majorettes are a group of baton twirling girls that perform in front of the Ferriday High School marching band. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

They aren’t the rock stars of the show with the hypnotic rhythms of the band, but during halftime on Friday nights in the fall, they sparkle and perform in unison.

And that work begins in the heat of the summer.

“The band is for the ears and we are for the eyes,” said Jerrees Dangerfield, a volunteer who helps out the team.

Dangerfield has been around the band her whole life. She is the daughter of Carl Dangerfield, who was the band director for 32 years.

“I have been twirling since I was 3 years old,” she said. “So I just come out here and give a little bit of my expertise when it is needed.”

But the team is in the hands of the majorettes. Dangerfield is quick to point out the maturity of the team members.

“Even if me or the team’s sponsor aren’t here, the captain and co-captain will still run practice,” she said.

“It is because we want to be here,” said Deserraye Johnson, a member of the team.

From 7 a.m. to noon throughout the summer, the team gathers in the parking lot of Ferriday High School to practice. The practice begins by working with the mascots, the young girls who are just beginning their baton twirling careers. Then, they practice as a team.

“We have to work hard,” said Johnson. “The whole performance is about us being together.”

That togetherness during the performances and the amount of time that the team spends training has created some deep bonds between the girls.

“I always am having fun,” said Johnson, “My teammates are my best friends at school.”

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(c)2015 The Natchez Democrat (Natchez, Miss.)

Visit The Natchez Democrat (Natchez, Miss.) at www.natchezdemocrat.com

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