High Hats deal with tragedy through tribute dance

Senior Captian Jamelle Brown moves to the front of the line in tribute to her best friend and fallen Co-Captain Tasmia Allen. The group danced to a tribute song for Allen who was killed in a shooting at her home at the end of the summer break. (Karla Estrada photo)

A day after losing senior High Hat Jill Bateman in a car crash, the High Hats took the stage on Nov. 5, 1995 for a contest. Then Director Kristi Beaty had the responsibility of helping the team cope with a tragedy. August 31, 2013 the High Hats took the stage again for the first time after losing senior Co-Captain Tasmia Allen to a shooting at her home. Again Beaty stood in front of a packed out crowd in the Sandra Meadows Gym with tears flowing down her face in support of her High Hats.

“Car crashes happen. It’s something you can adjust to. This just doesn’t happen everyday.” Beaty said.

When the High Hats took the floor in front of the first crowd for their annual “Show Off Nite,” their finale was a beautiful tribute dance for their beloved co-captain. This dance was absolutely flawless and brought the audience to tears. You could feel the emotions of the high hats with every move they made. They danced to one of Tasmia’s favorite songs by Beyonce, “I Was Here”, reminding everyone that Tasmia was indeed here and she will never be forgotten.

“When I was dancing in that tribute for Tasmia, I felt a bunch of emotions going through me.” two year returning lieutenant, Cameryn Scott said. “I was happy, then I was sad, then of course there was a little bit of anger, but for the most part I was sad because it made me actually realize that she’s gone.”

High Hat Captain Jamelle Brown was overcome with emotion as well, and at the end she actually broke down in tears holding the picture of her best friend for everyone to see.

“As I was dancing, I really just felt her, and just that,” Brown said. “I felt her presence and she really overcame me.”

The fact that Tasmia is really gone was difficult for the team and others to believe. Not just for the dancers but for their coaches as well. When Beaty, heard about the tragedy, she had a long line of emotions flowing through her head.

“First it was denial, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, then it was disbelief like I knew it happened but I didn’t believe it happened, and then the tears came,” Beaty said. “Just sobbing and being sad and angry that it had happened to her. There was a lot of emotions.”

High Hat Captain Jamelle Brown salutes her Co-Captain Tasmia Allen who lost her life in a Domestic Violence shooting shortly before the start of school. The salute to her photo was part of their grand finale.  The team honored her with a special dance titled "I Was Here," at their showoff night. (Karla Estrada)
High Hat Captain Jamelle Brown salutes her Co-Captain Tasmia Allen who lost her life in a Domestic Violence shooting shortly before the start of school. The salute to her photo was part of their grand finale. The team honored her with a special dance titled “I Was Here,” at their showoff night. (Karla Estrada)

Beaty admits that shortly after the day’s events she quickly turned her attention to the team of dancers she is responsible for leading.

“The mother side of me came out and I had to think about how I was going to help my children. My children being the high hats,” Beaty said.

Since the day of the tragedy, Beaty and co-director Tasha Evans have tried to set an example for the girls, by staying strong and being positive and uplifting. Through the rest of the year, they plan on keeping her memory alive for the girls. They’re planting a tree outside of the school next to Jill Bateman’s and also plan on making shirts. The tribute dance that was preformed at “Show Off Nite” will be preformed a few more times throughout the year as well. With each performance, the High Hats are hoping it will bring some closure with every thing that happened.

“This dance gives us a chance to express our feelings and emotion and show it to everyone so I feel like that really brings me some closure,” second year senior lieutenant of squad Jada McFarland said.

While McFarland may have closure, not everyone on the team does. Especially Tasmia’s best friend Jamelle Brown who feels that closure will never come to her.

“I don’t think I will ever have closure with her being gone,” Brown said. “But the tribute dance did help dealing with losing Tasmia. It just doesn’t give closure.”

 

 

 

 

See photos below of the whole Show Off Night:

See video highlights from the show below: