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2011 American School Spirit Award Winners

Congratulations to all the cheerleading squads who submitted an entry for the American School Spirit Awards. There were so many creative and unique entries this year and it is wonderful to see the enormous amount of spirit raising and community service cheerleading teams have done over the past year. 

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. From now until December 12th, follow the countdown to the winning team! 

1st Place
Blackman High School- Murfreesboro, TN
At Blackman High School, the cheerleaders create a spirit of unity and togetherness. Each year they have a team goal setting conference where they set community service, school spirit, athletic, academic, and personal based goals. The impact the Blackman cheerleaders make in their community can be seen through the various service projects they volunteer their time for.

One service project the Blackman High School cheerleaders lead was with the United Way of Rutherford Country. They helped raise over $12,000 and helped kickoff celebrations, pepped up runners in the Run United fundraising race, and celebrated with the community at the end of this successful fundraising campaign. The Blaze cheerleaders were also leaders among their school in the Rutherford County Canned Food Drive. This year, the squad donated over 1,500 cans! This equates to about two weeks of food for families in their community. 

The signature community project for the Blackman High School cheerleaders was the Blue Raider Cheer Clinic. During this week-long free cheer clinic, they introduced a diverse population of children to cheerleading. Working with their city's youth cheerleading program, the Blue Raider Youth Cheerleading Association, they offered the clinic to children who may not have been able to afford a summer clinic but were interested in cheerleading. Over fifty girls from their town participated and they hope to continue this program each year.

Academics are another strong part of being a Blackman cheerleader. With 24 squad members, they have an average GPA of 3.4. To boost importance of education in their community, they perform "academic pep rallies" at local elementary schools. Here they encourage students to read and do well in school during the fall, then return for a spring pep rally and help teachers and administrators reward students who performed well academically.

These cheerleaders are incredible spirit raisers at Blackman High School. This fall they created a "Welcome Back Pep Rally" to begin the school year with excitement and show their Blackman pride. They also held a New Student Social to bridge the social gap of their increasingly large school. The cheerleaders played ice breakers, chatted with new students and made friends. The pep rallies at Blackman could be considered legendary. This year during football season, they had eight pep rallies including their 2nd annual "LET IT BURN" pep rally for the football game against their biggest rival. They also started a new tradition this football season with the Interlude Stadium Dance. The cheerleaders created this dance and taught it to everyone at their school and fans at games, and had over 2,000 people dancing together at one game! To raise spirit in the community, they did "hit and run" pep rallies for their most supportive businesses by showing up and having a pep rally right in the business! They played music, announced their appreciation over the intercom, and gave them a huge thank-you card.

The Blackman cheerleaders make up the top all-around squad in the country through their community service, outstanding school athletic support, spirit raising activities, and academics. Congratulations on winning the American School Spirit Awards!

2nd Place
Costa Mesa High School- Costa Mesa, CA
The cheerleaders from Costa Mesa High School are extremely busy throughout the year with community service projects and spiriting raising. In the course of a year, they participate in no less than three service projects per month. In one project this year, they teamed up with their football team to raise money for their city's dog park, Bark Park. In only 6 hours they washed more than 80 dogs and raised $1600 for the furriest members of their community. 
The Costa Mesa cheerleaders have contagious school spirit! Coinciding with their Willie Wonka homecoming theme, the cheerleaders hosted another MUSTANG SPIRIT HUNT! They hid 10 "golden tickets" in community parks and used photo clues to point their community in the right direction. The lucky fans who found the tickets got to keep the ticket and collect their prize at the homecoming game. Another unique spirit raising activity they started had Costa Mesa fans post photos of themselves in their fan attire on their Facebook page. Those fans were encouraged to go to an away game where they were rewarded with an I Love Costa Mesa bumper sticker.

With over 35 squad members, the Mustang cheerleaders have received some outstanding awards! They won the Outstanding Youth Group for Susan G. Komen, the Presidential Volunteer Service Award from President Obama, and was recognized by the NMUSD as Outstanding Program for the 6th year in a row. All while maintaining a 3.68 GPA!

3rd Place
Kingston High School- Kingston, NY
These cheerleaders lead the school in community service, school spirit, academic excellence, and in supporting all athletics. They work hard to raise spirit within the school, but it is equally important to spread the spirit to the Kingston community and beyond.

This year they created a flash mob to support Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign. This campaign is to raise awareness about childhood obesity. In the months leading up to the flash mob they held classes in conjunction with a local dance studio to teach everyone the dance. On the day of the flash mob, they had over 400 people fill their stadium to participate. They also participate in other community activities, including a make a difference day, free car washes, foreign exchange student-bea, bike for cancer care, re-discover Kingston, nursing home volunteers and honorary football captain Grace Thiele.

The Kingston cheerleaders spread their spirit through the entire school. This year they searched for the "fan of the moment" and presented them with an award. They picked the fan based on their true TIGER PRIDE, this person came to the games ready to cheer the team to victory! This caught on and the fans showed up with more and more spirit every game. 

4th Place
Lawrence High School l- Trinity, AL
East Lawrence cheerleaders excel not only in community service and spirit raising, but also in the classroom. This group of young ladies holds a squad GPA of 3.4 and over eighty five percent of the squad is a member of the National Beta Club, Mu Alpha Theta Math Club and the Tau Alpha Gamma Library Club. With all of their school activities they still have time to keep the spirit up in the school and community. For the 11th year in a row they hold a community tailgate party, including tent decorating, live music, food and entertainment. The community looks forward to the festivities all season long!

After learning about the Sparkle Effect, these girls were so inspired they wanted to start their own team in their community. They now have a "Sparkle Squad," the girls believe "everyone deserves a little sparkle." Over the holidays these cheerleaders adopt a child in the community and provide them with a holiday party, including gifts, snacks and games! This is one of the things the East Lawrence cheerleaders look forward to all year long. They also participate in Breast Cancer Awareness, CheerReaders, parades, tornado relief help and much more.

5th Place
Hendrick Hudson High School- Montrose, NY
The Sailor cheerleaders started a community wide awareness and fundraising campaign for Breast Cancer Awareness month. They created a "Beat Cancer" cheer and performed it at various community and sporting events. After the cheer, they would use their megaphones to collect donations from the crowd. In the month of October alone, they raised $700 and donated it to Support Connect, which is a local organization that helps families battling breast and ovarian cancer.

They also host an annual baby-sitting night at their elementary school that is open to elementary students. It is right before the holidays to allow parents to get their shopping done or enjoy an evening out. They also do many other community service projects like helping run their school's annual blood drive, participate in a "Stay-Awake-A-Thon" to raise money for cancer, and create hand-made memory boards for children at Sunshine Children's Hospital to display pictures and cards over their beds. Their motto is "Good, better, best-never let it rest until your good becomes your better and your better becomes your best!"

6th Place
Halls High School- Knoxville, TN
The cheerleaders from Hall High School spend their holiday season volunteering at the Fantasy of Trees to benefit the East Tennessee Children's Hospital. There, the squad helps paint faces and makes crafts with the children. They spend the rest of the year raising money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation by selling iced sugar cookies at their home baseball, basketball and football games. When they aren't volunteering in their community they raising school spirit by, making weekly posters to decorate the hallways and creating treat buckets for the players.

Even thought they spend a lot of time raising spirit in their school and helping out in their community, they still save plenty of time for their studies. Six of the seven seniors were inducted into the National Honor Society.

7th Place
Berne – Knox – Westerlo- Berne, NY
This is a group of well rounded students that helped resurrect spirit not only in their school but in their community. They love to find out "fun facts" about other athletes and make it a priority to make them feel special. For example, their basketball team has a PB&J superstition, so the cheerleaders make them PB&J's before their games. They also hosted the "Best. Game. EVER!" It is important to the Berne-Knox cheerleaders to interact with the opposing team. At one game they had such great chemistry with the other team they started a conga line before the game. It was one of the best nights they can remember, the entire crowd was on their feet cheering the entire game. These cheerleaders lead their crowd in spirit and community involvement, keep it up ladies.

8th Place
Stevenson High School- Lincolnshire, IL
The Stevenson High School Spirit Revolution (cheerleaders and dancers) take tremendous pride in fundraising for notable charities and causes. They teamed up with another local high school in the area to raise money for cystic fibrosis, in their mission to "Tackle Cystic Fibrosis," they raised a total of $7,087. In 2010, a fellow student athlete was diagnosed with leukemia. The Spirit Revolution came together through clinics and t-shirt sales to raise $10,000, to donate to the Children's Memorial Teen Oncology Lounge. Beyond fundraisers they also make it a priority to raise school spirit.

9th Place
Kentwood High School- Covington, WA
With 52 cheerleaders, the Kentwood Conks are busy throughout the year with their service projects and spirit raising. This school year, they worked with the student body, community and local businesses to gather over 10,000 school supply items. Using funds they generated through assisting at a marathon, the cheerleaders purchased 600 drawstring backpacks, stuffed those bags with the school supply donations, then gave them to Scenic Hill Elementary School. The Conks continue to work with Scenic Hill throughout the year by offering tutoring, homework help, helping with book drives, encouraging students during testing windows, offering teach assistance, and more. They plan to hold a clothing drive for Scenic Hill this year, too.

10th Place
West Feliciana High School- St. Francisville, LA.
The assistant principal, Abby Temple, says the cheerleaders, "Create a positive vibe everywhere you see them- in the halls, during class, at sporting events, in parades and during community functions." A fun tradition the West Feliciana cheerleading team does is draw a name of a W.F. Middle School cheerleader and for a week they give them little gifts and at the game on Friday night, they receive a special gift. This is also the night they find out who their big sister is and during the 3rd quarter the big and little sisters get to cheer together. To get involved in the community, this squad volunteers to set up and serve food at Dinner with Dads. They also help out at their local, "Breakfast with Santa" where the cheerleaders help entertain the kids and put on the play, The Night Before Christmas.


Judges Favorites Award Recipients:

Community Service Award:
Totino-Grace High School- Fridley, MN
The cheerleaders of Totino-Grace High School have started a new competition tradition. When they make their journey to the UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship, they spend one entire day of their trip volunteering at Give Kids the World, a non-profit storybook resort in Kissimmee, Florida, where children with life-threatening illnesses and their families are treated to weeklong, cost-free fantasy vacations. They donated almost $700 in their "Spare Change Drive" and hope to have even more for this year.

Spirit Award:
Horizon High School - Scottsdale, AZ
These cheerleaders have endured an emotionally tough year. The passing of their cheer coaches son, who was a former football player from their school, and two more deaths within their extended cheerleading family created a somberness among the team. But, by pulling together and lifting each other up, these cheerleaders stood strong for their school, community and cheerleading coach.

Recommendation Letter Award:
South Hills High School- Fort Worth, TX
The principal of South Hills, Nancy Sticksel, had several nice things to say about the squad. In the rebuilding of their school spirit and pride, Sticksel states, "Our cheerleading squad as played an integral role in the change." She also feels that the school pride has become what it is today because of the effort the cheerleaders have put in to the school and their spirit is contagious. Not only do these cheerleaders work on the pride of the school, but also make a difference in the community. Sticksel thanks the cheerleaders for all their hard work.

Academic Award:
Cosby High School- Richmond, VA
The team members of Cosby High School's cheerleading squad have an average GPA of 3.76. The current senior class valedictorian is on their team and 9 of their team members are students in the exclusive health science specialty center. Twenty-one of their team members received the District All-District Award and the Regional All-Academic Award.

Above and Beyond Award:
Eastlake High School- Sammasmish, WA
The cheerleaders at Eastlake High school are looking for those two fans (male and female) that help spread the spirit! Every game the cheerleaders recognize one male and one female who help cheer the loudest and proudest. This helps the student section cheering every Friday night. Keep the spirit spreading ladies!

Spirit Impact Award:
Asotin-Anatone High School- Asotin, WA
School pride and involvement is extremely important to to the school at Asotin - Anatone High School. The students are asked to sign in to every event, game or club activity they attend during the school year. If a student attends 50 or more games or activities during the year, they will be presented with a Black "A" on their letterman's jacket. This is the only way to receive this prestigious letter.

"Funny Facts" Award
Viera High School- Viera, FL
The cheerleaders at Viera High School have brought several great facts to the table for the American School Spirit Awards.

  • For the past four years, including this year, they have had a set of siblings on their squad - including twins and siblings.
  • One if their cheerleaders went all the way to the preliminary round of American Idol! "la la la"
  • They won the BANANA two years in a row at camp... GO BANANA's!
  • The cheerleaders were featured on their local news station as "Cheerleaders of the Week" in their community.
  • The squad is quite diverse and can make a variety of animal noises. (Meow, purr, moo, sssss, roarr, oink )

Scholarship Award:
Del Oro High School- Lomis, CA
This squad encourages their team members to go to college by fundraising for their very own "Tradition of Excellence" college scholarship. Each year, three awards of $1,500 are given to college bound seniors.

Building Cheer Award:
Holston High School- Damascus, VA
This will be Gina Thomas' 5th year of coaching the squad and a lot has changed since that first year. The first year she took over, they only had 4 people on the squad. They made it their goal to increase their squad and their spirit. Their motto quickly became, "Adapt and overcome." Their varsity squad now consists of 16 cheerleaders. To increase their community involvement, they lead reading pep rallies to encourage students to read and during Thanksgiving, they made over 200 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to pass out to families in need.

Life Saving Award:
North Hunterdon High School- Annadale, NJ
At cheerleading tryouts, team member Heather Skillman went into cardiac arrest. Through the quick response of her cheerleading coaches and fellow teammates, she was resuscitated and is now doing well. The entire team now particpates in The Janet Fund and has raised over $3,000 for their cause.

Outstanding Achievement Award Recipients:

Arapahoe High School- Centennial, CO
Boise High School- Boise, ID
Incarnate Word High School- Corpus Cristie, TX
Northside High School- Fort Smith, AR
Robert E. Lee High School- Baytown, TX
United High School- Loredo, TX
Warren County High School- McMinnville, TN

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