Fun with Flags Graduates Excel at the Drum Corps International World Championships

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

In August 2022, eight young adults who started their color guard experience in the Naperville Park District's Fun with Flags! program competed as finalists in the Drum Corps International's (DCI) World Championship in Indianapolis. Fun with Flags! is a program for beginners and intermediates who want to learn to spin and toss a flag while moving to music. Vicki and Howie Mogil, longtime instructors of the Park District's flags programs, are extremely proud of these students.

"These students who began with our program continued on to be highly successful high school participants and were on the largest stage of the marching arts world at Drum Corps International's Finals Competition," said Vicki. "Each and every one of them was a DCI Finalist, which is truly amazing."

The eight finalists (starting with the top row, L to R) are:

  • Willow DeKruiff (Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps of Concord, California) - a senior at Illinois State University and a graduate of Naperville Central High School. The Blue Devils won the World Championship.
  • Lindsay Peters (Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps of Canton, Ohio) - a junior at the University of Illinois, where she is a member of the Marching Illini. In Naperville, she was a member of Perpetuum Winter Guard, an independent color guard for students in high school or above.
  • Ashley Peters (Boston Crusaders Drum and Bugle Corps of Boston, Massachusetts), a first year student at University of Cincinnati, where she is a Bearcat Band member. In Naperville, she was a member of Perpetuum Winter Guard, an independent color guard for students in high school or above.
  • Emily Wilkinson (Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps of Allentown, Pennsylvania), a 2022 graduate of Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and a graduate of Naperville Central High School.
  • Matt Wilkinson (Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps of Allentown, Pennsylvania), a senior trumpet player at Naperville Central High School and a flat mover for Steperette Cadets in 2014.
  • Alyssa Birzetis (Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps of Allentown, Pennsylvania), a first year student at Northern Illinois University and a graduate of the Naperville Central High School.
  • Maya Springer (Colts Drum and Bugle Corps of Dubuque, Iowa), a senior at Naperville Central High School.
  • Tyler Kullen (Colts Drum and Bugle Corps of Dubuque, Iowa), a junior at Plainfield North High School.

Each of these finalists pursued a high level of competition in the sport of color guard by trying out for a DCI team, many of which are out of state. They start by submitting a video in the late fall and then travel to the team's location in winter or spring for call backs. Once they are selected for the team, they plan to spend the summer with their team, practicing and performing all over the country and then meeting in Indianapolis for the DCI championship event.

In addition to pursuing high levels of performance with flags themselves, these students have enjoyed volunteering with the Park District flags programs to help younger students.

The Park District's Flags Program

Naperville Park District currently offers three main flags programs year round and a summer camp program. The three programs are:

Fun with Flags! This program is for beginners and intermediates ages 6-14 and teaches basic skills. It includes a performance for family and friends at the last class.

Fun with Flags! Summer camp program, 2022

Steperette Cadets Exhibition Guard (X Guard) is for ages 8-14 and helps students build their skills with a limited number of exhibition-only performances in the Chicago area.

X Guard in competition, 2022

Steperette Cadets is open to participants ages 8-14 with experience in flags and who want to be part of a team that competes in Midwest Color Guard Circuit shows. Currently this group is comprised of students in grades 6-8.

2022 Steperette Cadets Team

Students in these programs can participate for one or two seasons just for fun and learning or they can continue progressing in the program for several years and be well prepared to audition for a high school color guard team.

As instructor Vicki Mogil said, "Long-term participants develop delight in movement and music and appreciation for the moving art that is color guard, and even those who come to Fun with Flags! for a 7-week session get to dance, throw and catch. Being part of the Park District program provides inexpensive access to the activity for lots of kids, and it is our privilege to teach them all."

Why We Teach Flags

Instructors Vicki and Howie Mogil have taught color guard classes at the Naperville Park District for more than 25 years. They love the art of flag movement to music and even more so, they love teaching the art to kids.

"There are so many ways that our flags program benefits young students," explained Vicki. "It is our goal that every seven-year-old Fun with Flags! participant experience the same joy as you see on the faces of the DCI participants, whether she or he develops a passion and continues on to that level or just is proud when performing for parents at the end of a seven week class. We want every participant to improve in equipment handling, dance and interpersonal skills and to develop the confidence to perform and to try new things. We want them to feel cared for. All this has been true since we began as an independent baton twirling corps with flags in 1978, and we believe the Park District programs accomplish these goals. What makes this activity different from all others is that it really is 'The Sport of the Arts.'"

Learn More about Registering for a Flags Program

Register online and search for Flags to see current class offerings.