The dance and drill team Positive Force 2 keeps its own beat.
By JENNINE ZELEZNIK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- The rhythmic sounds of stomping and clapping echo through the colorful new lobby of the Rebecca Williams Community Center's Education building.
Following the sound through the halls, visitors will find a group of teens dancing, marching and stomping to a beat created by their own movements.
With the precision of a military band, the members of the Positive Force 2 Drill Team run through their many routines. The sound of their movements and voices bounce off the large room's walls.
"Who are we?" shouts the team's founder, adviser and director, Rosselle Burch.
"Positive Force. Warren, Ohio," the dancers reply, then bend at the waist and throw their arms to the left across their bodies.
"We work toward oneness," Burch said while serving cookies to the team after practice. "It's important to have a cohesive unit. That's what is so impressive -- when you have 35, 40 people moving at the same time."
When it started: Burch started the team in the late 1980s as an alternative to traditional extracurricular activities.
"This is something ongoing and unique in itself," he said.
Rikki Reed, a Warren G. Harding High School senior, has been a member of the team for years. She said even at drill team competitions, Positive Force stands out.
"Other teams dance, and have drums that keep the beat," she said, then laughed and moved her body. "We have our own beat."
Marsaydizs Johnson, a Harding freshman, said jokingly that she joined the team to stay out of trouble.
Reed laughed, but added, "It does teach a lot of discipline. You have to listen."
Johnson said drilling is not as difficult as it looks as long as you work at it.
"You really have to have rhythm, and you have to like to dance," Reed cautioned. "You have to keep up with the rhythm."
Academic emphasis: You also have to be dedicated -- not only to the team, but to school as well, Burch said. All drill members have to maintain a 2.0 grade point average, he said.
"Education comes before the drill team," Burch said.
Members also must stay away from drugs and alcohol. Burch said he wants the team to focus on positive goals, both in and out of practice.
"We're positive people involved in positive activities," he said.
Positive Force practices year-round and performs at halftime during basketball and football games as well as festivals and competitions.
Burch said he likes watching students "start at the very beginning and be an achiever."
He believes this "carries over to success in the homes, in the schools, with friends and in careers."
"Once you start with something, it makes it easier to open the doors for other successes to happen," he added.
The team used to work out of Harding, but now is sponsored by the community center.
Burch said the center provides more fund-raising opportunities because of its nonprofit donation status.
"It's a broader base for the fund raisers that make the program a success," he said. "Now, we don't have as many restrictions."