Stepping up their game

The past, present and future of the WHHS step team


Rehme Leanza

The WHHS step team performed at both the junior high and high school winter pep rallies this year. Over twenty students from all grades participate in step, which partners with Black Culture Club.

Stepping is a synchronized dance performance that mixes African Folk traditions with popular culture. It involves dramatic movements such as clapping, body slapping and vocalizations.

Many scholars claim that hand clapping and foot stomping movements originated from West Africa. This practice then made its way to the United States in the mid 19th century, possibly as a response to slave holders outlawing drums during slavery. Stepping took on a new form in African American sororities and fraternities in the mid 20th century.

As for stepping today, it can be found in colleges, community organizations and our very own school.

SENIOR Jamila Pitts shared how she got to be the current captain of the WHHS step team. “The people who were casting…saw the hard work I put in and they saw that and eventually I was their choice.”

Being the leader of the step team can be very hard work. Regarding the commitment, she said, “I am very passionate about stepping and I think it’s a very fun thing to do. Plus I had the right leadership qualities and I was good at organizing.”

Naajay Moss, ‘23, auditioned for step because “When I saw it last year, I was like, ‘oh that looks cool,’ and I wanted to be a part of it and then when I auditioned I got in.” She said, “It’s just another way for me to show my culture.”

Arielle Conner, ’21, also chimed in, saying, “I auditioned for step because I previously did step as a child and I really like dancing but I didn’t have a passion towards dance so I glided to step and it really encouraged me”.

When asked about the intensity of step, Conner said, “ It’s not really intense but for most of the performances it kind of is because you’re really pressured to do your best.”

She also shared what she believed is the hardest thing about step. “For me, the hardest thing about step is facial expressions and energy throughout the whole performance…there’s a difference between doing the step and performing,” she said. “Just like giving and putting your energy throughout the whole show [is important].”

Pitts adds that step has helped her in her other extracurriculars at WHHS. “I joined step team the year before joining marching band, and they both require coordination, so they come hand in hand,” she said.