Dallas ISD cheer camps began with an exciting warmup to the musical beat of Turbo Hustle: “Whatcha gon do? You can do it too, with the Turbo: 5, 6, 7, 8; Right, right, right; left, left, left; right left, kick, kick, knee, knee, bend down and roll.”
Middle school students from across Dallas ISD spent the first two Saturdays in October participating in cheer camps at Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy. During the camps, more than 100 cheerleaders from 10 schools learned dances and cheers while adhering to UIL COVID-19 Risk Mitigation Guidelines, including social distancing, wearing masks and washing and sanitizing hands.
This is the second year that the Dallas ISD Student Activities sponsored camps for middle school cheerleaders. In addition to the camps, the district covers the transportation cost to and from football games, personal protection equipment and a stipend for cheer coaches.
“We are trying to allow students to participate in extracurricular activities without the burden of the cost associated with being involved,” said Sharla Hudspeth, executive director for Dallas ISD Extracurricular and Extended Learning Opportunities. “When students are involved, they have a sense of school spirit and engagement. We know from experience and research that extracurricular activities give students a feel of connection with their school community.”
Karon Radford, Franklin Middle School cheer coach, said prior to the District’s financial support, students were responsible for the cost associated with their participation in cheer squads at the middle school level.
“The expense denied access to something that everyone should be able to do,” she added. “Cheerleading enriches the lives of students. It gives them the opportunity to interact with others which builds their capacity to work with others, creating and forming teams for lifelong learning.”
Facilitated by Express Cheer, the camps were designed to teach teamwork, leadership skills and cheer skills training. Each school was assigned a college and/or professional cheerleader to help them bond together and improve their cheering skills.
“Our goal was to teach Dallas ISD cheerleaders the safe and correct way to cheer at games and pep rallies,” Chris Henson, Express Cheer owner, said. “Cheerleading is the perfect combination of athleticism and performance that bridges the gap between students and sports.”
The participating schools included Oliver W. Holmes Humanities/Communications Academy, School for the Talented and Gifted in Pleasant Grove, W.E. Greiner Exploratory Arts Academy, L.V. Stockard Middle, Henry W. Longfellow Career Exploration Academy, Alex W. Spence Talented/Gifted Academy, Ann Richards STEAM Academy, Seagoville Middle, Francisco “Pancho” Medrano Junior High School and Benjamin Franklin International Exploratory Academy. The next middle school cheer camp is scheduled for the spring semester.