CHALMETTE, LA -- The Chalmette High School Charmers danced their first dance in the 1963-64 school year. More than 50 years later, a lot has changed--but not the marroon velvet uniforms with white fringe.
"Through the years, the only thing that's really changed is the hairstyle ," says director Jill Mitchell.
Tradition is important to the Charmers and Chalmette High School. Besides the similar uniforms, they do the same fight song dance as that first team in 1963.
"This is a rich culture here," says Mitchell. "In a community that is very close-knit... everybody knows everybody. So, from that, they all have a family member, whether it be an aunt, an uncle, that was a Charmer or knows someone that was a Charmer."
"I wanted to be a Charmer because I wanted to be a part of the tradition," says Charmer Brooke Morgan. "I love to dance. And, I just like being part of a team and making new friends."
"Everybody really helps each other," says Charmer Belle Landry. "I experienced that, really, nobody judges you as long as you are trying your hardest. And, you are not going to get criticized because you can't do something. They are going to help you do it."
Being a Charmer means more than learning dance routines.
"Team bonding, confidence, responsibility. That's the main thing we learn, really, is responsibility," says Charmer Christiana Gaines.
The Charmers are a competition team, competing and winning since 1992. Because they compete nationally, their practicing doesn't end when the football season ends.
"It's a lot of work," says Mitchell. "It is a year-round sport. I say a sport because it is very involved, athletic. You are constantly running. We do 200 kicks every single day."
"As soon as you join the team it starts," says co-captain Adaline Palmisano. "A very big commitment. We do kicks every day. We stretch every day. We work out every day. We do our dances every day."
"Every practice we usually work out," says Charmer Blair Martin. "We do crunches, pushups, jumping jacks, everything just to build up our stamina for dancing."
And the hard work doesn't always stop when they leave the school yard.
"It's not just a once-a-week thing," says Breanna Bradley. "Charmers is basically the whole week. Lots of hours. You got to put into it a lot of effort. You can't just go to practice, put in effort there, but not put in any effort at home."
All that hard work has led to success and a reputation that needs to be upheld.
"The Charmers are well-known. They are recognized everywhere they go," says Mitchell. "I kind of tell my team, 'Remember, no matter what, when you walk out the door, your picture, your face, people associate you as being a Charmer.'"
"Everywhere we go... we have to have our hair done, makeup done, lipstick on, just have to have the whole charmer 'look,'" adds co-captain Izabella Garcia.
You can see the Charmers on the field when the Chalmette High School takes on Archbishop Hannan Friday, September 6th. And watch the highlights of all the top games that night on Friday Night Football presented by the Allstate Sugar Bowl at 11pm on NOLA 38 and midnight on WGNO.