2010 American School Spirit Winners

Click here to see UDA's finalist!

Last week, UCA narrowed down the nominees for the 2010 American School Spirit Award. This year, just like the previous years, was very difficult for the staff to pick the top teams since there were so many good applications!

For teams to enter the American School Spirit Award, squads had to submit a book to UCA. In their book, they included a letter of recommendation from their principal, athletic director or community leader, show one or two community service projects/charity work events involving the squad, describe two of their most successful spirit raising activities, list their most notable academic awards/honors, and include a couple of interesting facts about their team.

The American School Spirit Award recognizes the top all-around programs in the country. When choosing a winner, UCA looks for teams that exemplify community service, outstanding athletic support, spirit raising activities, and high academic standards.

After reading and looking through all of the application books submitted, UCA has finally narrowed it down to the final programs. Here are the squads UCA choose for the Outstanding Achievement Award. Check back with us throughout the week to get a glimpse of some of the runner-ups, and on Friday, we will announce the WINNER of the 2010 American School Spirit Award!

Countdown to the 1st place team:

1st Place
Mascoutah High School
Mascoutah, IL

“Our school first, our community first, helping others first, other cheerleaders first…” OTHERS FIRST is the motto Mascoutah High School cheerleaders live by, and with this selfless idea in mind, they set the picture perfect example of cheerleading. Meet our 2010 American School Spirit Award Winners!

When it comes to raising school spirit and supporting their athletic teams, this squad does more than just cheer on the sidelines – they take their spirit to a much higher level. To recognize every sport, every season, MHS cheerleaders created a Wall of Spirit at their school. Each sport season and every big game, they make a 20 foot long banner and signs wishing their teams good luck. This year for Homecoming and August Fest, the cheerleaders created a float, “MHS Cheer… Past and Present,” inviting cheerleading alumni from numerous decades to ride on the float. Over 50 alumni participated with the oldest being 90 years old!

The community service work Mascoutah cheerleaders perform each year is second to none, and this year, they went above and beyond. The team puts a huge emphasis on their hometown by holding team dinners on Fridays where they honor one of their own community members, working on a Habitant of Humanity House being built in Mascoutah, and ticket sales at the Chamber of Commerce for the annual Spring Fest. After hearing about a local, underprivileged team that couldn’t afford practice attire, the Mascoutah cheerleaders made it a point to take care of them, sending 70 pair of tennis shoes and bags of clothing. During the holidays, the cheerleaders get highly involved by participating in toy drives and preparing and delivering meals at Thanksgiving. In August at a football scrimmage, they held a canned food drive and collected six big garbage cans of food. They have also been heavily involved in Breast Cancer Awareness month, held story time at local kindergarten classes, sponsored kids’ cheer clinics, and visited retirement homes.

And the charity work list goes on, as the cheerleaders strive to lend a helping hand to those less fortunate, having been hit with tragedy. When a little boy from Mascoutah had to undergo a heart transplant, the MHS cheerleaders cheered the surgery on to success. When a local lost his home to a fire, the cheerleaders set up a card making station and donation bucket at a scrimmage game and happily mailed a $525 check and 100 handmade cards to the victim. When a tornado damaged the farm of an 82 year old couple, the cheerleaders came to the rescue by working in 90 degree heat one afternoon to help restore the property. Without a doubt, Mascoutah cheerleaders do it all!

“The cheerleaders have brought back a school-wide positive spirit that we were lacking,” says Athletic Director Henry Johnson. “They show every day that it’s important that we care for others as much as we care for ourselves.”

2nd Place
Blackman High School
Murfreesboro, TN
GPA: 3.4

“To truly understand what this team means to our school, you would only have to spend a few days here to realize it,” says Principal Gail Vick from Blackman High School. “The thing I cannot express (in writing) is not something you can state as an activity or action; it’s the feeling of unity and togetherness we have as a school that the cheerleaders have helped create.” Principal Vick said it perfectly: the Blackman High School cheerleaders truly exemplify the true spirit of cheerleading. From the astonishing amount of school spirit they spread to their stunning list of community service activities, and not to mention, their 3.4 GPA and outstanding list of academic achievements, this team is the perfect group of role models in their school and community.

In their book, they state: “We take Blackman pride to a whole other level,” and they said it well. This team’s spirit and dedication to their athletics is untouchable! Throughout the season, they show their appreciation to the most supportive businesses by surprising them with a “hit and run” pep rally. They enter the business with blazing music, signs and cheers, thanking them for their support throughout the season. As for their pep rallies, they have been called “legendary.” The highlight of the students’ week, the Blackman cheerleaders put on a serious show by encouraging all students to learn the words to the Alma Mater and even quizzing them on it; using skits, props, signs, banners, lights, and fog to get the show going; and even hosting blackout pep rallies and bonfire pep rallies. This year, a tradition was born when the cheerleaders introduced a pre-game “Pride Walk,” where they encouraged their student body and community to line the walkway from the field house to the field (over 100 yards). An ambitious goal they didn’t see possible, but with much spirit and encouragement, their goal was accomplished, and the football team never felt so loved!

Community work and academics are top priorities for Blackman cheerleaders. Each year when a new squad is selected, the team makes it a goal to contribute more hours to charity work than the year before. This year, they have been involved with United Way, a canned food drive, the Child Advocacy Center duck race, and Primary Care and Hope Clinic for those with no medical insurance. On a scholastic standpoint, this team doesn’t slack. They qualified for the highest level “distinguished” status Academic Achievement Award, 12 cheerleaders qualified for the highest level of individual achievement award with a GPA of 3.5 or above, and nine cheerleaders are members of the highly competitive honors program. Not only does this team excel in academics, they set the example. Twice a year, they go to local elementary schools holding Academic Pep Rallies that encourage students to read, study and excel in school and reward those students with good grades.

3rd Place
Costa Mesa High School
Costa Mesa, CA
GPA: 3.65

Costa Mesa High School is all about community service. They spend at least two weekends out of every month helping others. Some activities this team gets involved with are Swing a Thon raising money for afterschool elementary programs, making blankets for Project Linus, participating in a Flashmob for MDA, volunteering in the ALS walk, and donating toys to local kids in need. They have also dedicated many hours to raising money for Susan G Komen, and for this cause alone, they raised $3,000.

The CMHS cheerleaders get involved with their community by attending little league games to cheer on the teams. To get the students more involved, the cheerleaders came up with the name Mesa Maniacs for their students section at games. For this section, the cheerleaders have created Maniac of the Week, Maniac Tailgates, and Maniac Flags.

Katrina Foley, a City Council Member says, “No is not in their vocabulary. On campus, and across town, they have set the bar for cheer programs in the district, but also for other athletic programs to encourage students to step up and volunteer in their community. The CMHS Cheer Squad are role models in our City for youth leadership.”

4th Place
Tualatin High School
Tualatin, OR
GPA: 3.3

Tualatin High School didn’t have very much school spirit; During their football and basketball games, students wouldn't even stand up for the fight song. That was until the cheerleaders decided to make it their mission to bring the spirit back! They started by making signs, bring doughnuts and volunteering for every committee. Slowly, they started to see an increase in the number of students at their events. During the games, the cheerleaders used signs to help teach and direct the crowd and even positioned their JV Cheerleaders throughout the crowd to get people yelling. And it worked! Now when their fight song comes on, everyone is on their feet. People are even getting to games early just to get a good seat! To give thanks to the student body, the cheerleaders hand out notes and treats to the students who attended the game the night before. They say things like “Thanks a Million” with a 100 Grand attached to it or say “Kudos to you for Cheering” with a Kudo’s attached.

They also help out in the community with Student Mentor Programs, Breast Cancer Awareness Fundraisers, Regatta Run, and Tualatin Food Pantry and Bicycle Safety.

5th Place
Kingston High School
Kingston, NY
GPA: 90.4

For Kingston High School cheerleaders, education is everything, so they join their booster club to raise money throughout the year for college scholarships. The money is then distributed between the seniors on the squad. To achieve this goal, they raise money by hosting a golf tournament, having a pancake breakfast, and selling lollipop and KHS stickers!

This squad also finds time to bond with each other while giving back to the community at the same time. The cheerleaders get together and bake cakes for National Cake Day and donate them to their local soup kitchen, Queens Galley.

Along with that of that, they also are in involved with Bike for Cancer Care and Livi-Love 5k Race - just to name a few of their spectacular service acts!

6th Place
Glacier Peak High School
Snohomish, WA
GPA: 3.718

The Grizzly girls at Glacier Peak High School know how to vamp up the spirit and service in their hometown. Their main spirit-raiser this year is leading their fans in a Flash Mob. They pick one song per season and create simple motions that everyone in the crowd can perform. Students, parents, and community members love joining in on the fun, and the GPHS cheerleaders plan to continue this tradition for years to come.  This team also excels in community service with the Susan G. Komen Walk, “Glacier Peak Thinks Pink,” MDA Walk, and King5 Home Team Harvest being some of their most cherished charity services. This team is also keen when it comes to the idea of shooting for the stars in academics. They hold a cumulative GPA of 3.718, qualifying them for the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Distinguished Scholars Award!

7th Place
Halls High School
Knoxville, TN
GPA: 3.66

HEART is what the Halls High School cheerleaders feel is important as ambassadors of their school and community, and they prove it by striving to spell it out: Hardworking, Energetic, Academic, Responsible, and Team! To get school spirit off on the right track, the cheerleaders sponsored Powder Puff football games this fall by collecting money, announcing the play-by-play, and making sure students had a great time. As for community service, this team went above and beyond for Breast Cancer Awareness Month with Cookies for a Cause, where they baked cookies and handed them out at school. They have also been involved in Race for the Cure, the Ronald McDonald House, and in honor of the holiday season they volunteered at Fantasy of Trees, Angel Trees, and Operation Christmas Child.

8th Place
Queen of Peace High School
North Arlington, NJ
GPA: 3.714

This year the cheerleaders from Queen of Peace wanted to make green impact. To accomplish this, they volunteered their time with the Riverbank Cleanups. The cheerleaders said, “It is statistically shown that the Passaic River is one of the dirtiest rivers in New Jersey,” and the cheerleaders want to make sure they are doing their part to help clean it up! They help out by removing garbage and debris in and around the river. This year, the squad also adopted a kangaroo from The Turtle Back Zoo and are taking care of it for a year. They provide the animal with food, bathing materials, and fertility corners.

9th Place
Burlington-Edison High School
Burlington, WA

The president of the Washington State Cheer Coaches Association says the cheerleaders from Burlington-Edison “demonstrate through their actions the meaning of ‘cheer’ – staying upbeat and supportive in both their school and community and ‘leader’ – influencing and guiding through their actions, not just words.” They demonstrate this by helping out their community. One of the things they do is get involved with their local Cancer Walk. The cheerleaders walked a 24 hour walk-a-ton to help raise money for people with cancer and cancer research around the valley.

10th Place

Gregory-Portland High School
Portland, TX
GPA: 92.5

Last spring, the cheerleaders from Gregory-Portland participated in the MDA Stride and Ride, where they raised $1,000. In October, they raised another $897, and the cheer squad used their funds to make it a grand total of $1000 for the Susan G Koman Foundation. The cheerleaders teamed up with their volleyball team to hold a Dig Pink game and raised money by selling pink doughnuts, pink posters and collected donations in classrooms and at lunches.

Judges Favorites:

Salem Hills High School from Salem, UT
Spirit Award

This school has only been around for two years. To help establish some traditional cheers at their school, the cheerleaders spent time with the student body teaching the cheers to them. They got shirts printed for the student body with their 20 cheers on the back. The students wore the shirts to each sporting event and when the cheerleaders were ready to start a cheer, they would simply raise their fingers indicating the number, signifying the cheer that was about to be done. The students would look on the shirt in front of them and would then know what cheer to do.

Kittatinny Regional High School from Sussex County, NJ
Creativity Award

The majority of the cheerleaders from Kittatinny take a foreign language class, and to make things more enjoyable, they translate their cheers info Spanish, French, German, Italian and even Japanese.

Cardinal McCarrick High School from South Amboy, NJ
Helping Hands Award

One of the McCarrick cheerleader’s favorite things to do is celebrate birthdays. They decided to take their love for birthdays and share it with children who can’t afford to have one. The cheerleading team goes to the Homefront Homeless Shelter every three months and throws a birthday party for the children whose birthday falls in those months. The cheerleaders bring them pizza, snacks, cupcakes and cookies.

The football team from Cardinal McCarrick hasn’t had the best football record for the past five years, and the cheerleaders knew they needed to do something to help them out. They made it their mission to turn the program around. After they finish their practices, they head over to the football team practices. They sit on the sidelines and cheer for the players, just like it’s a game. On game days they get to the game two hours early to cheer them on during their warm-ups. This ended their season with a 4-4 record!

Rocky Point High School from Rocky Point, NY
Recommendation Letter Award

We wanted to recognize the Rocky Point cheerleading team for having outstanding Recommendation Letters. In one of their letters, their principal said, “The people of Rocky Point have maintained that strong community bond through generations and always have rallied to help any one of their own. The Rocky Point Cheerleaders often find themselves in the position of fulfilling those needs, and they do it with grace and style.”

Hidalgo Early College High School from Hidalgo, TX
Academic Award

Hidalgo Early College High School is located in South Texas along the US Mexico border. Their school population is 98% Hispanic and 61% are limited English Proficient. But that doesn’t stop them! They are the only high school in the United States to enroll 95% of their students into college. The academics at Hidalgo are very challenging and the expectations are extremely high.

Eastside Catholic High School from Sammamish, WA
Community Service Award

The cheerleading squad from Eastside Catholic High School raised $36,000 for Mr. Rekdahl. He was a beloved alumni and teacher from ECHS that in June 2010 was diagnosed with intestinal cancer.

Overton High School from Nashville, TN
Spreading the Cheer Award

These cheerleaders started their own Sparkle Effect joined in on calling their team the Sparkle Cats. They have taken five special needs girls under their wing and work with them once a week teaching them how to be great cheerleaders. To help get this program started, the Sparkle Effect gave them a grant for the girls to buy uniforms. The special needs girls practice along side of the squad, take part in the pep rallies and cheer at select games.

Warren County High School from McMinnville, TN
Best Fundraiser Award

Every year the cheerleaders from Warren County get involved with Relay for Life. This year the cheerleaders hosted a community birthday party for Tessa Smith, a elementary school cheerleader and a cancer victim. They also feature Tess in the girls’ annual football program.

The teams who received the Outstanding Achievement Award are:

Allen High School - Allen, TX
Arapahoe High School - Centennial, CO
Barren County High School - Glasgow, KY
Boise High School - Boise, ID
Booneville High School - Booneville, AR
Del Oro High School - Loomis, CA
East High School - Victoria, TX
Fairview High School - Fairview, TN
George Wythe High School - Richmond, VA
Heritage Christian -  Indianapolis, IN
Hickory High School - Chesapeake, VA
Kentwood High School - Covington, WA
Lake-Lehman School District - Lehman, PA
Mendham High School - Mendham, NJ
Monarch High School - Louisville, Co
Mundelein High School - Mundelein, IL
Penncrest High School - Media, PA
St Francis Borgia Regional High School - Washington, MO 

Thank you to all teams who applied for the American School Spirit Awards, and congratulations to our Outstanding Teams and Judges Favorites! Don't forget to check back tomorrow to see the 10 -8 teams!

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