Team looks to fill in blank on new sign

Members of Rhythmic Mode, the defending state champion high school dance team from Pendleton, pose by a new sign on the edge of town.<BR><I>Contributed photo</i>

Five badly-weathered wooden signs around town are disappearing.

The signs proclaim Pendleton High School's dance team, Rhythmic Mode, as 2001 state champs. In their place are metal weather-resistant signs that includes room to include other championship years - such as the team's 2008 state championship.

Good thing, since the team is leaving town Thursday in search of another title.

PHS dancers gathered Saturday to dedicate the first new sign.

The dancers and their coaches broke away from an all-day practice to attend the dedication. In four days, the girls will board buses bound for the Portland Rose Quarter, where they will compete against top dance teams from around the state on Friday and Saturday.

To reach the Dance & Drill State Championship, teams must rack up qualifying points in the months preceding state. Pendleton danced in two events, winning at Tigard High School and coming in second in the 5A Division at last weekend's competition at Centennial High School in Gresham. In Gresham, the team brought home the Kelsey Harrington Memorial Sportsmanship Award and Best Costume Award.

The teams will dance to Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Beethoven's Last Night," a version of Beethovan's 9th symphony. PHS dancer Jesska Roesch dressed as Beethoven, is haunted by spirits on his last night alive, similar to Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol."

The team will attempt to win back-to-back championships. It will dance against Wilsonville, West Albany, Thurston, South Albany, North Eugene, Dallas, Cleveland and Century.

Because Pendleton took first place last year, it will have the honor of dancing front and center in the grand finale performance at the conclusion of the competition, before the winners are announced. The grand finale is a dance routine that all participating teams in 6A Large, 5A Large, & 6A Small Divisions, 26 teams in all, dance together. The teams will learn the routine Saturday morning.

Last year, coach Debbie Kishpaugh earned coach-of-the-year honors.

Stand by to see if a new addition is made to the new Rhythmic Mode signs.

Eventually, four other metal signs will go up at main entrances into town.

Sign sponsors include Pendleton Foundation Trust, Blue Mountain Welding, Williams-Northwest Pipeline Corporation, Graybeal Distributing, Buckaroo Booster Club, Pendleton City Club, Kelly Lumber, Washington Defense Group and private donors.

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