Dance coach takes leave

Due to the abrupt leaving of their former head coach Kari Simonson, Diamond Bar High School’s dance department is looking forward to exploring new territory as they prepare for their approaching season.

Informing students of her departure just one week before the start of the school year, choreography coach Francesca Lee said that Simonson left to pursue work as a school counselor at the North County Corona school district. 

“We are super happy for her, but obviously we are really sad because we love her,” Lee said. “We are hoping to prepare as much as we can before the new teacher comes in, so then they can have a nice smooth transition.” 

Dance company seniors Jenny Dunn and Annie Huang said Simonson’s leaving came as a big shock to the team. It was an especially emotional moment for the seniors as most had been under her guidance for four years and formed a close bond with the coach. 

“[Simonson] was basically our second mom, she was there when no other teacher was,” Dunn said. “She supported us and taught us like we were her own children, so we could’ve gone to her for anything.” 

With sincere emotion, the seniors emphasized their hopes of passing down Simonson’s teachings to underclassmen to keep her legacy alive. This will cause a different transition for the new people in the dance company, but the seniors hope to ease in by bonding with one another.

“I think she has made an impact on the newbies even though they have only known her for two weeks or so,” Huang said.

Senior dance company president Brandon Giang emphasized Simonson’s importance as their dance teacher, stating that her dance layout plans for the day are what kept the team in check.

“Simoson was always there to check in on all of us and if we ever needed to go to her for anything dealing with our own problems and struggles, she would always be there to help us through them.” Giang said.

Despite her leave, the team strives to continue carrying on with the traditions that Simonson has started with the new dance company this year. They wish to continue the legacy that Diamond Bar has and are beyond excited and proud for this new chapter. 

“We plan to continue as normal. We are hopefully going to start competition dances soon [ while we ] work on bonding with one another. We look forward to getting a new dance teacher soon,” Lee said.

The anticipation of getting a new dance teacher has reached a halt as the school has announced the new arrival coach Jill Riley as the new dance company director.