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Leading the cheers for school spirit

School spirit is taking off at the Bermuda High School, thanks to the BHS Leopards the Island’s newest cheerleading troupe, which underwent a trial by fire at this week’s school sports day.

Undaunted, the Leopards want to take their act to other school events, and perhaps even the Interschool Sports day on Monday at the National Stadium.

“It was tough,” admitted 14-year-old Courtney Day, who formed the group at the start of this year with fellow BHS year ten students Tatum Boyle, 14, Rhiannon Fletcher, 15, and Erin Haydon also 14. The group reported a few spills on sports day, and problems with their music.

But the BHS Leopards learn fast on their feet, with weekly practice sessions that have brought in more than a dozen other students on board.

Asked why they came up with cheerleading, Rhiannon said: “School spirit. Athletes don’t have anyone to cheer them on except their team mates. That’s why we turn up at anything, to cheer for them.”

Courtney recalls coming up with the idea in biology class with Erin, when the two tried to come up with a different sport activity. The genesis of the Leopards was in January, when the girls went through each of the year ten classes offering a place to anyone interested in joining up.

That was followed by brainstorming on the uniforms: school colour navy blue, with bows of either orange or blue and a wait of several weeks, after ordering the costumes online, for the girls to learn some basic cheerleading stunts.

Spanish teacher Celeste Tenorio shared a few basic moves from her own experience, Erin said: the back walkover, the front walkover, the L-stand and the basket toss.

“We just watched YouTube and practised,” she said. “There are videos online of all of them.”

Said Rhiannon: “You can’t do it on your own. We have to work together. And when you get the video and watch yourself on it, you realise your work paid off.”

“In practice you don’t know how to do it,” said Erin. “I was dropped a few times. You fall. You just get back up.”

Parents have covered the cost of uniforms so far, but bake sales and car washes will have to raise money to cover the $70 cost per costume.

The group’s goal is to perform at half time in the Interschool sports day; whether they will make it has yet to be confirmed, but if dedication is any measure, the Leopards will make it.

They don’t use pom-poms, said Tatum: “Most times we just do stunts, like Erin and Courtney getting thrown in the air. That’s the basket toss. We’ll cheer through the games and then, at half-time, that’s when we do our actual routines.”

Dancers Jada Bundy, Lara Hall, Rachel Masters, Jada Pearman and Ojeda Smith help complement the routine.

Erin and Courtney are “flyers”, along with Aleisha Hollis: the ones who end up in the air with the occasional tumble. Other performers include Asha Bicarie, Alexa Manuel, Caitlin Marshall, Paget Middleton and Megan Pearson.

Students Sophia Collis, Alice Graham-Welton and Karina Rebellato have also taken part but with school play commitments, they haven’t been able to join in with the others.

The Leopards meet every Wednesday after school for an hour’s practice. The group remains open to other year ten students, depending on the availability of uniforms.

Useful website: www.cheerleadingonline.com.

Brightening up sporting events: The BHS cheerleading troupe.

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Published March 10, 2012 at 7:32 am (Updated March 10, 2012 at 7:32 am)

Leading the cheers for school spirit

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