ASHLAND – The main objective of a high school spirit squad is to support the athletic teams and the school by getting out in front of the crowd to cheer and dance. But sometimes, these students need a little support themselves.
Fifteen cheerleaders and 10 dance team make up the Ashland-Greenwood Spirit Squad for 2021-22. Their main objective is to boost the spirits of the athletic teams and fans with cheers and dance routines. As a way to support the spirit squad and help the team achieve the recognition they deserve, a group of local parents has formed the first booster club for the cheerleaders and dance team.
Jada Scott has led the effort to start the Ashland-Greenwood Spirit Squad Boosters last May. She said the school’s athletic booster club does not provide funds for the spirit squad, so she felt there needed to be a separate organization to support the cheerleaders and dance team members.
“They work really hard for their sport and the goal is to support them,” said Scott.
Over the summer, the spirit squad boosters met regularly to write bylaws, elect officers and plan events to raise money for and the spirits of these hard-working students.
One of the original reasons the booster club was formed is to help spirit squad members pay for items not provided by the school. The extracurricular activity can be quite costly according to Scott, whose daughter Addison was on the dance team last year as a freshman and is entering her sophomore season as a dancer.
“A lot of the expenses cheer and dance have are out-of-pocket,” she said.
The school district provides new uniforms every few years for the sports teams and also does so for cheer and dance, Scott said. Because these uniforms are more custom-fitted, however, some spirit squad members aren’t able to use them and new ones must be purchased.
Cheerleaders and dance team members also have several personalized items – like jackets, backpacks and hair ribbons – that must be paid for by the individual.
The dance team has also added some new expenses as they gear up for competitions. The team has moved into Class B for state competition, so there are more expectations at this higher level, Scott said. They are purchasing competition uniforms that differ from the ones worn for performances during football and basketball games. And dance team each member must contribute $200 to hire a choreographer to develop routines. There will also be fees charged for contests, as well as expenses to stay overnight in some cases.
The cheerleaders and dance team members also must pay to attend summer camps, where they hone their skills and learn new routines and cheers for the upcoming season.
The spirit squad is also in charge of decorating the school for homecoming, and pay for all of the associated items needed for this project, Scott said.
There are multiple annual fundraising efforts the spirit squad undertakes each year to help earn money for these expenses. The recent Swine and Dine meal provided during Stir-Up netted the group a good amount, as did the face painting booth they operated during the community celebration. In the week leading up to Stir-Up, the spirit squad members hosted dozens of young girls during a day camp, where they learned a dance routine that they performed during the Stir-Up Grand Parade. They will also perform at a football game this fall.
The squad recently completed their most unique fundraiser, where they spend the day washing the school district’s buses. They will also be selling breakfast during the upcoming Chautauqua event in Ashland on Aug. 7.
The booster club has created a sponsorship opportunity for local businesses, organizations and individuals. Based on the level of their donation, the sponsors will have their names printed on t-shirts and banners displayed by the spirit squad, Scott said.
The club has also organized its first major fundraising event. On Nov. 6, the spirit squad boosters will hold the Ashland Holiday Festival, a new holiday arts and crafts event for the area. There will be vendor booths set up in the Old West Town at Carol Joy Holling Camp near Ashland, Scott said.
With the funds they raise, the boosters plan to cover the cost of one camp for each member of the spirit squad, as well as pay for their poms and bows, Scott said. As a special gift this year, the boosters bought bracelets bearing an AGHS charm for each spirit squad member.
Future plans include a college scholarship for one spirit squad member and revamping the annual Dance Extravaganza to add awards and recognition for the students. Scott said they would also like to schedule a fun night for the spirit squad as a way to promote team spirit between the cheerleaders and dance team.
Suzi Nelson is the managing editor of The Ashland Gazette. Reach her via email at email@example.com.