There are certain people in your life that have an influence on the person you become ...and for anyone that grew up in the Top Hats, certainly understands how Executive Director, Arlene Meisner is one of those people.
Only a selfless individual would dedicate 36 years of her life as the director of an organization on a volunteer basis to provide youth an opportunity to learn, grow and develop, not only as performers in the competitive Winter Guard arena, parades and special events, but also in life. Many children otherwise would not be given such an opportunity without Arlene's commitment and this organization would not be where it is today without her.
Recently Arlene has been inducted into the TRWEA Hall of Fame. The Top Hats, one of the longest standing members of the TRWEA circuit, are amongst a few other local units that proudly represent TRWEA on a national level. The Top Hats, recognized 7 times as a WGI Championship Finalist continue to excel because of Arlene Meisner's dedication to the students and the staff. When a person gives her heart and soul it can only be for one reason - Love! Love of the activity, love of the members past and present, and love of the organizations in which the group belongs. And that...is exactly what Arlene is filled with...
Show Design & Unit Director
Paula Sikorski has been an integral part of the Top Hats staff for over 20 years. She started by teaching movement, choreographing baton and dance routines for the summer program, and assisting in the development and technique of the winter color guard programs. Ms. Sikorski learned by watching and working with renowned designer Tracy Wooton and renowned choreographers JC Cacares and Andy Mroczek. Since, Ms. Sikorski since has been responsible for the visual design and staging for both the Top Hats Independent Open guard from 2005-2009, 2011 & 2013 and the Regional A Guard from 2005 - 2013.
With over 15 years of performance, baton & dance training with Top Hats, Golden Triangles, University of Pittsburgh Golden Girls, Point Park College, Fireside Studios, and Cervi's School of Performing Arts, she has shared her talents through instruction, choreography and consultation of various high school color guards, dance teams and majorettes in the Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. In addition, Paula has choreographed various High School Musical Productions. Paula served terms on both the TRWEA Management Committee, and the TRWEA Review Committee. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pittsburgh. In 2010, Paula was inducted into the TRWEA Hall of Fame. Paula continues to share her love of the activity by consulting for independent and scholastic winter guard programs.
Equipment Training & Choreography
Ben is a former Top Hat, performing six seasons with the organization, growing up! He loves being able to give back to a group that has afforded him many opportunities. Ben has been a key contributor to the organization as a staff member over the past few seasons and currently takes the lead role for the entire training program and curriculum. In addition, he is the principal choreographer.
Ben also adds to his marching resume his high school, Greensburg-Salem, the Reading Buccaneers (DCA 2005), the Rochester Crusaders (DCA 2006) and Onyx (WGI 2011). As a special education teacher by day, Ben truly wishes to see all students, in the classroom and in color guard, grow and develop to positively impact their lives.
Movement Training & Choreography
Lauren began her love of the winterguard activity in high school where she performed with the Northgate Winterguard 1998 - 2000.
The summer of 2000 Lauren performed with DCI finalist Carolina Crown drum corp. She returned to Pittsburgh and continued to teach various
competitive guards in the area including Northgate High School, Mars High School, Kiski High School, and North Allegheny High School. Lauren also spent 4 years performing with the Top Hats Performance Ensemble who placed in WGI Independent A and Independent Open class finals. She also was a performer with the Pride of Cincinnati Winterguard in 2008 and took home the silver medal in Independent World Class finals.
Lauren is excited about joining the Top Hats staff for the 2015 season and she looks forward to passing on her passion for dance and performance. Lauren has a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Elementary Education from LaRoche College and works as a teaching assistant in Hempfield Area School District. She currently resides in Ross Township, PA.
After six years of performing with the Top Hats, Stephanie has joined the staff after her age out year as an equipment technician. Stephanie brings a wealth of information to the group as a result of her learning experiences from a vast array of talented instructors. Stephanie marched with the World Championship Cadets in 2011. She was a part of that organization for three seasons. Stephanie started her color guard journey at North Penn High School, which is located 25 miles outside of Philadelphia, PA. She also performed with the Pittsburgh Performance Project (P3) and spent 4 years with IUP Color Guard where she was appointed captain her senior year. Stephanie’s knowledge, positive approach, warm personality and contagious smile making learning from her a joy.
Stephanie graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Psychology. She is a 5th grade teacher at St. Bernard’s School in Indiana, PA and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Education in School Counseling.