The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

Chasing dreams one dance step at a time

Freshman+Henry+Stokes+shows+off+one+of+his+skills+at+the+Hall+of+Fame+dance+competition.+Stokes+performed+a+jazz+solo+to+Maneater+by+Nelly+Furtado.
Photo courtesy Henry Stokes
Freshman Henry Stokes shows off one of his skills at the Hall of Fame dance competition. Stokes performed a jazz solo to Maneater by Nelly Furtado.

As the world was shutting down due to Covid, freshman Henry Stokes was just getting started with his dancing career. Back in fifth grade, Stokes often watched movies or videos of people dancing and it inspired him to try it for himself. Starting off with just a hip-hop class at Wheaton Studio of Dance, Stokes’ love for dancing only grew. After two years of only hip-hop, Stokes began to branch out to different styles of dance. He started taking ballet, jazz and contemporary classes and soon discovered those were his favorite.

“I like jazz and contemporary type of dancing because I like that it’s either sassy or emotional,” Stokes said.

While many student-athletes find it challenging to juggle academics and sports, Stokes seems to thrive on the challenge. Despite a demanding schedule that includes around 13 hours of dance each week, managing schoolwork, studio sessions and competitions, Henry has taken on an additional role as the only freshman on the Walter Johnson Poms team. Even with back-to-back practices on multiple days a week, he stays dedicated to his commitments and consistently gives his all. His passion for dance motivates him to strive to be the best he can.

Leading up to freshman year, Henry watched other dancers at his studio join their high school poms teams and it sparked something in him. When his time finally came to transition into high school, he knew without a doubt that this was a team he wanted to be a part of. Alongside four other freshmen, he competed for one of the limited spots available on the team. The coaches and captains watched him perform and instantly knew they wanted him on their team.

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“We are looking for whoever is going to be the best candidate. He works super hard, he is consistent, and he shows up. Those are all things that we were looking for at tryouts,” Poms head coach Tanya Ang said.

However, Henry’s contributions to the team go beyond just his dance skills. His upbeat and cheerful personality makes a huge positive impact on the team’s dynamic.

“Henry is such a fun and loveable teammate. He has so much energy and passion for dancing. I am inspired when I see how hard he works and how talented he is after just a few years of dancing. He has only gotten better and I’m excited to watch him grow as a dancer. We just love him on the team,” senior captain Alexa Steinberg said.

Henry loves the team just as much as they love him. Being the only freshman has not been a concern for him. He has received unlimited support from his older teammates and was instantly welcomed into the community. Having such a smooth transition onto the team made dancing that much more enjoyable for him.

“The best part of poms is just being able to dance and perform which makes me really happy. I love the school community and the support of poms here.” Stokes said.

With three and a half years left of highschool, Henry already has plans to continue his dancing through college and the rest of his life. As he puts it, “I wouldn’t want to be doing anything other than dancing.”

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About the Contributor
Hillevi Schine, Staff Writer
Hillevi Schine is a senior and a staff writer this year on the Pitch. She is so excited to be a part of this newspaper. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with friends and playing sports.
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