Kennett's Jenny Lockhert twirls fire at halftime of the Kennett-Charleston high school football game at Kennett on Sept. 28, 2012. Lockhert has been accepted to twirl at the University of North Dakota next year.
Lockhert served as head twirler when she was in the eighth and ninth grade at Kennett. More recently she has served as feature twirler her sophomore, junior and senior years at Kennett.
Lockhert recently moved one step closer to performing on a much bigger stage.
Lockhert contacted the University of North Dakota in the summer of 2012 and expressed a desire to twirl at the four-year institution when she begins college in the 2013-14 school year.
"They gave the head twirler - Katie Kwak - my cell phone number," Lockhert said. "She called me last summer and was excited about me twirling there and told me a few things I needed to get done."
Step 1 was to submit a tryout video to the University of North Dakota band department.
Step 2 was to send another video.
"I sent in one video and they liked it, but they said they wanted to see another tryout video so I got back with Miss Lea Jo Wallace," Lockhert said. "We put together another routine and sent them another video around Thanksgiving. She liked it and showed the band director. They got back with me about two weeks ago and congratulated me on making the University of North Dakota band as a twirler."
Pictured is twirler Jenny Lockhert.
"Courtney Rhew and Miss Lea Jo Wallace basically gave me the motivation to do it," Lockhert said. "They really encouraged me to get it done and if it wasn't for them I wouldn't be where I was. They helped me do any type of trick I could possibly do."
Wallace, who twirled at Arkansas State University in college, helped Lockhert prepare a tryout video.
"We got together and she gave me a few tricks to do," Lockhert said of working with Wallace. "She gave me lessons on what I needed to include in the routine. They wanted a lot of two batons so I included as many two-baton tricks as I possibly could. I also wanted to get my aerial in it and I accomplished that, which was pretty exciting for me."
Wallace has been watching Lockhert perform for over a decade.
"I have had Jenny in church choir, plays and given twirling lessons to her since she moved here in kindergarten," Wallace said. "She is just a natural performer no matter what she is doing. She is not a singer, but if she was singing in front of people you would think she is a singer. She's that good at performing. She has a stage presence about her."
Lockhert recently twirled fire at halftime band performances in the 2012 football season.
"Fire to me is just very exciting," Lockhert said. "Fire batons are different than regular batons. Whenever you are twirling you also get really, really hot when you are doing it, but it's also exciting when the crowd starts cheering. The tricks are a lot harder with fire, but once you get it it becomes natural. I've practiced it almost every day of my life so if you have the passion to do it following the fundamentals of it will get you anywhere."
Lockhert said she developed a desire to be an adept twirler from watching previous Kennett high school twirlers perform at halftime shows.
"When I was little I saw Kristen Privett twirling fire at the halftime show," she said. "I always loved to watch her and that kind of gave me a passion to do it and be one of them one day. I knew Miss Lea Jo twirled in college. Knowing Miss Lea Jo twirled at Arkansas State and Kristen Privett was the head twirler in Fayetteville kind of encouraged me to be someone like that."
Lockhert said she plans on majoring in athletic training at the University of North Dakota. She is also considering working on a minor in dance.
"Jenny is a wonderful twirler who always entertains the crowds," Kennett twirling sponsor Courtney Rhew said. "We will really miss her next year."
Kennett's Jenny Lockhert twirls at halftime of the Kennett-Senath-Hornersville boys basketball game on Jan. 11, 2013.