Tryouts go virtual during pandemic

Band, cheer, dance squads adapt to trying times


Alyeska Zamora/Rider Media

Cheerleaders performing during a November pep rally.

Meghan Helton, Reporter

With Rider High School shut down because of COVID-19, extracurricular groups were forced to cease their activities altogether.

However, Rider’s marching band, cheerleaders and Raiderettes have found ways to overcome this when it came to having tryouts for 2020-21.

“In the past auditions for cheer and dance teams have been done live in front of judges,” said Peyton Peterson, coach of the Raiderettes and cheerleaders. “Due to COVID-19 and restrictions in place, we have had to switch to a digital tryout process. This means that the candidates learned material through videos and then filmed themselves performing that material and submitted those videos to the judges.”

The band’s audition process was also similar in the fact that video technology was needed.

“We are doing all of our auditions this spring through Google Classroom with using videos and having students submit recordings through Flipgrid,” head band director Loy Studer said.

With all this time away, it’s easy for students in these organizations to lose their edge.

“Spring marching is usually a very special time with lots of excitement and energy,” Studer said. “We are still able to evaluate the students, but we are definitely missing out on being able to see how they work together.”

However, Peterson and Studer are confident that their groups can bounce back from this.

“Unfortunately things like practices being canceled, camps being changed or canceled, etc., could set us back when it comes to being prepared for the fall,” Peterson said. “That may mean that we have to add a few extra practices in the fall semester to make up for lost time, but we are doing our best to be flexible and work with what we have.”

For the band, morale was kept high with a musical performance from the comfort of the students’ homes. Each individual submitted a recording of the Rider High School fight song, which band director Geoffrey Martin edited. The finished product became a totally synchronized, virtual performance. 

“We hope that this long layoff won’t affect the enthusiasm and passion our students have for being part of the Pride of the Raiders Band and Orchestra,” Studer said. “Next year is the 60th year. We are excited to celebrate Rider.”

Peterson also contributed a vote of confidence.

“Both the dance and the cheer teams are ready and excited to get back to supporting our Raider football teams, Lady Raider volleyball teams, and all of our other sports teams, clubs, and activities in the fall,” she said. “Go ROHO!”