Phil’s Dancers ready to dance the cold away Feb. 2

PUNXSUTAWNEY — An important part of the Groundhog Day festivities is the excitement generated by a group known as Phil’s Dancers, selected each year at PAHS by math teacher and Inner Circle Stump Warden Ron Ploucha.

This year’s dancers were selected in November and include Mia Anderson, Melissa Blose, Tawnee Bowers, Danielle Knopick, Megan Muth, Samantha Osikowicz, Allie Shields and Krystin Vanderpool.

Ploucha selects girls who will work hard to entertain and enliven the crowd by performing onstage Feb. 2. The group also performs its dance for PAHS during the annual Groundhog Day assembly Feb. 1 during the school day.

The girls have been practicing every Tuesday for the past few months and have now stepped up their schedule to twice a week in preparation for the events of next week.

“We have put a lot of time into these dances and we cannot wait to perform them in front of everyone,” Shields and Blose said. “We are excited for Groundhog Day, and hopefully, everything works out well.”

This year’s Phil’s Dancers had a slight advantage over those of past years, with a trained dancer among their ranks.

Osikowicz has danced for Van Dyke & Company for 12 years and has served as a student teacher for the past two years, working with students from ages five to 13.

Osikowicz, who plans to major in dance at Slippery Rock University after graduation, was able to put her teaching skills to the test, working with the other seven Phil’s Dancers.

“I was excited to be the lead choreographer, although I knew that I wanted the girls help in making up the dances,” she said. “We all worked hard at learning them and choreographing them. Everything turned out great, and we all are excited to perform them.”

Look for Phil’s Dancers on stage at Gobbler’s Knob next Wednesday, or catch their performance at the Groundhog Day assembly, which will be broadcast live around 2 p.m. Tuesday on Comcast Channel 18.