Mead Middle School’s cheerleading squad has quickly become one of the school’s most popular extracurricular activities. With a roster of 26 members, this spirited group of cheerleaders has not only elevated the excitement at sporting events, but also strengthened school pride.
The idea of establishing a cheerleading squad at Mead materialized last year when a parent asked if it was offered as an extracurricular activity. The school did not currently have a cheer program, however there was a significant amount of interest from students which prompted Principal Josh Barnett to speak to staff about starting one. Teachers Amanda McIntire and Andrea Evans, who are both passionate about cheerleading, embraced the opportunity to coach the squad.
“When I heard a parent had requested that Mead offer cheerleading, I got excited about incorporating it into the school’s extracurricular activities,” said Coach McIntire. “I really enjoy working with the kids and getting them interested in cheering. I cheered growing up, and I thought coaching would be a great way for me to get involved more.” Evans, who started cheering when she was in middle school, shared Coach McIntire’s enthusiasm, “I loved cheerleading. It’s a unique opportunity for kids to get involved in something they’re passionate about.”
The squad maintains an inclusive approach, welcoming students of all abilities. Unlike traditional cheerleading squads, they do not hold tryouts, which ensures that every interested student can participate. Students practice for 90 minutes after school every Monday through Thursday and perform at various sporting events and school assemblies.
Eighth grader London Bishop, now in her second year on the squad, loves Mead’s cheerleading program because, “We get a lot of support and we get to have so much fun, learn new things, and make friends.” Brinley Wisner, also a second-year eighth grader, shared her experience stating, “I enjoy hanging out with all of the girls from different grade levels and learning new dances and jumps.”
As the girls begin to grasp the basics of cheerleading, like formations, hand positions, and jumps, their progress is evident. “Last year, our focus was on routines that involved dancing and cheering. With each practice and performance, we witnessed remarkable growth in the students’ skills and confidence,” stated Coach Evans. “This year we’re incorporating basic stunting into the routines, and I think people will be really excited about that.”
The skills, confidence, and experience students gain from being part of the squad gives them an advantage in high school and beyond. “A lot of our eighth graders last year were excited about trying out for the high school squad. They felt more prepared, having basic knowledge and skills that they might not have had if they hadn’t cheered in middle school,” said Coach Evans. “I’ve heard parents say it’s great that we’re offering this in middle school because the students are going to have so many more skills when they go to high school which will make the high school squad even better.”