Video+Story: Franklin High’s Twirlers Advance to State Competition

El Paso ISD’s only twirling team is also a state-qualifier.

The Franklin High School Feature Twirlers – a team of four majorette-style baton handlers that are often associated with marching bands – will compete in the state tournament after earning a Division 1 rating in the Texas UIL Region 22 Solo and Ensemble.

The team is made up of senior Makenna Villanueva, sophomores Sidney Vallejo and Maddy Chapa and freshman Eleanor Schoenbrun. The four will compete in Austin over the Memorial Day weekend.

“The twirling team really puts a sparkle on the field,” twirling director Dawn Menchaca said. “It’s a matter of passion and dedication. It’s how much time you want to put in that passion that you have. They work a lot of hours preparing routines and actually compete across the state of Texas.”

Menchaca teaches business at Franklin and volunteers her time to coach the team. She has worked with some of the students since they were in elementary.

“I have a passion for twirling. I twirled here in El Paso for many years, and I was hoping to extend that passion to somebody else,” she said. “It’s neat these four students have taken that task and create that legacy here at Franklin.”

Villanueva, who has competed and placed at state before, can’t wait to share that experience with her teammates.

“Twirling means a lot to me because I have been doing a really long time,” she said. “I love my team so much. We have become such good friends. I love the bonding aspect of twirling, so I am looking forward to spending time with them.”

The team practices every day during marching season, performing at games with the band. Menchaca is thankful to the band directors for welcoming the team with open arms.

“Mr. Beach and Mr. Allen have been very accepting of twirling here at Franklin, letting us practice and choreograph alongside the band,” she said.

This semester, they are working on perfecting their routine, fine-tuning their moves and adding new elements to wow the judges at state.

“We have to have a routine five minutes or less. They like the teams to have a clean routine, minimizing the drops,” Menchaca said. “It must be showy because of course that’s why people come to watch twirlers.”

Chapa credits her team’s success with their ability to work well with each other.

“With twirling there is that danger factor, so you have to be able to trust others,” she said. “You have to spend a lot of time together. You have to get to know each other, which makes our team and friendships stronger.”

Story and photos by Alicia Chumley | Video by Angel Dominguez/EPISD