Every GHS student probably knows Paris from half time shows at football and basketball games. Celina Wheeler, more commonly known around GHS as “Paris” is a senior baton twirler at Grandville High School.
Growing up as a Twirler
Paris started twirling around age nine he twirling journey began at her old school when she saw a flyer for Athletic Sensations, a local twirl group around the Grand Rapids area “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to try it but my mom said, ‘Hey you should just try for one season and if you don’t like it then you can quit.’ ” She ended up loving it and decided to stick with it. Paris was able to advance quickly with her natural skill of twirling. She picked up on tricks quickly and was soon but to beat with the other girls who started a few years before her.
After a few years of competitions on a team at Athletic Sensation high school was quick approaching and Paris wanted more. She went to our athletic direction, Mr. Parsons and asked for an opportunity to twirl at our school. He was keen on the idea and decided to give her a chance to prove herself at the halftime shows of football games. She nailed it! That eventually formed into a full time commitment and she now performs at halftime shows of football games AND basketball games. “Yeah I guess I’m just my own team.” Paris explains when asked about being a single team “player” at GHS. “I’m the Feature Twirler, that’s what they call it because I don’t twirl with the band; I just come in with my own music and do my own routines that I put together.”
Paris has had many amazing opportunities throughout her career as a twirler. She was coached by the Western Michigan’s Baton Twirling coach for a long time. That was something that helped her evolve into her own coach for high school performances and even helped her become a coach for younger girls. With twirling at Western Paris was also given the opportunity for out of state competitions in Indiana and Ohio.
Fortunately for Paris she has had a supportive group behind her throughout her journey of twirling. She explains “At first twirling started out as an after school activity and then when I started getting involved down at Western and here at the high school it completely changed my style of life. It kind of revolved around twirling just a little bit so my parents were really good at accommodating around it especially with their jobs and all the stuff they wanted to do. They come and support me at all of my games and I have friends that come to all of my performances too. So that’s nice of them.” Paris’ former and current teachers are also very supportive of her. Mr. Kleinheksel, a teacher of Paris, explains a few ways he has noticed how Paris is special both in and out of the classroom “The thing or things that I think are special about Paris are two things. One, I think Paris is a very hard worker in class. She takes her school work seriously and she wants to always so the best that she can in all that she does. And second would be her hard work and determination and her willingness to put herself out there in a unique situation in which she is twirling the baton and not a lot of people know about that but she’s willing to put herself out there despite that unique scenario and give her best effort every time she steps onto the court.” A few anonymous students here at GHS agreed “She (Paris) has a lot of guts going up there and performing by herself at the games but she always does such a good job and it’s fun to watch and cheer her on!”
Although Paris has decided not to continue Twirling at the college level she is planning on continuing to coach and plans on doing that for as long as she possibly can. Finishing off her senior year strong she expresses her gratitude towards her family, friends, classmates and community, “It’s been a crazy crazy ride with my twirling career but it’s been so much fun and I think every moment was worth it and it’s probably a really good example that you just have take opportunities that are in front of you and at least try it out because you never know it could change your life.”