Varsity Brands School Spirit Awards

2020 Finalist Features

Congratulations to all of the finalists from the 2020 Varsity Brands School Spirit Awards! Varsity Brands is moved by the dedication and commitment these individuals, groups and schools have to elevating the student experience on their campus each and every day. Below you will find some standout stories of those who have gone above and beyond to raise school spirit, build community pride, and increase student engagement.

Varsity Brands will be featuring finalists from a new category every few days. Check back in as we feature new finalists!

Andrew Dyer | Jefferson City High School | Jefferson City, MO

Andrew Dyer shocked many when this talented, state-ranked track runner also became the first male dancer on the Jefferson City High School Dance Team. Between his commitments to academics, track, and now dance, He is an insanely hard worker. When you pair that with his natural raw talent, strength, athleticism, style and showmanship he is a dance powerhouse.  Even though he is 1 of 15 adopted children and suffered a childhood of abuse and inconsistent parental guidance prior to his adoption, he is kind-hearted, committed, and always making self-improvements. He constantly plans get-togethers for informal practice, encourages the rest of his team to rehearse and get in the weight room, all in the most respectful way. Andrew’s courageous act of stepping outside his comfort zone resulted in four younger boys attending the JCHS dance team mini clinic, because they, “want to be just like Andrew.” That is the definition of school spirit.

Jacious Clark | Fayetteville High School | Fayetteville, TN

Jacious Clark is known as one of the most inspiring athletes that has ever walked the halls of Fayetteville High School. Playing both football and basketball, Jacious has racked up some impressive stats – stats that could paint a picture of someone that is solely dedicated to sports and training. However, Jacious excels in the classroom, serves as a peer tutor, and is widely recognized by the entire teaching staff for his work ethic and achievement. Jacious goes to the local elementary school for one hour each day to work with students in a first-grade class as a tutor and peer mentor. Through this opportunity, he can work with students who face some of the same home-life challenges as his own and help them to persevere in the classroom and on the field. Jacious is a Cinderella story, one with a very bright and meaningful future ahead.

Andrea Bouwhuis | Bingham High School | South Jordan, UT

Andrea Bouwhuis is the first female athletic director at Bingham High School in South Jordan, Utah. You’ll always be able to find her near a gym, field, track, or pool ready to help the competing athletes and coaches with whatever they need. Each week she sends out an email promoting Bingham athletics and has even worked to have athletic events at Bigham shared through live stream. She ensures that each member of the faculty and staff have their own Miner gear to wear on Fridays. She has even added Miner pride to the hallways and locker rooms at Bingham, by having hallway wraps made that represent great legacy of Bingham athletics. Andee keeps an eye on all of the athletes’ academics and how they are working with teachers and others in the school. She also encourages them to support each other by modeling support for all teams. Andee is responsible for establishing a “signing day” assembly at Bingham, which features male and female seniors who have committed to play at the collegiate level. Her inspiration to keep athletes safe, celebrated and motivated speaks volumes at Bingham High School, and knows that spirit is the center of success.

 

Chris Passamano | Stamford High School | Stamford, CT

Since Chris Passamano joined Stamford High School just two years ago, he’s embodied leadership, teamwork and worked hard to increase school spirit across all sports programs. As a federally designated low-income school, Chris noticed too many athletes underperforming simply because they were not getting enough to eat outside of school. Chris looked for grants as a solution and was able to do so with the Stamford High School Supper Program. This grant, the first of its kind in the country, provides portable after school meals at the conclusion of the school day. The goal was to keep students at school and provide a meal that would allow for them to refuel for practice and games and be better prepared for their studies afterward. Additionally, when Chris took over, he recognized that Stamford did not have adequate emergency action plans (EAPs) or automated external defibrillator (AED) coverage. He set out to create the EAPs for each location and secured five new AEDs via grant. This year, he was fortunate enough to save a life with the use of this equipment. Chris supports all sports, and he ensures they all support each other. He also makes sure all sports teams support other school groups, clubs, performing arts, etc. Chris is a staple to Stamford High School Athletics.

Diane King | South Forsyth High School | Cumming, GA

Diane King provides first-class care to over 800 athletes and 22 Varsity sports at South Forsyth High School. She works closely with coaches, officials, administrators, parents and athletes to coordinate the best personalized care plan for the individual, sports, venue or injury. She can always point a student-athlete in the right direction and maintains a calming presence when adversity strikes. Diane is often “on call” for multiple events and is always only a text away. She implemented a school-wide physical day for all athletes, making mandatory screenings accessible for all students while raising money for the athletic department across all sports. Diane excels in her job as the school’s Athletic Trainer, but what sets her apart is her ability to do so with humor, poise and spirit. Due to exponential growth and new schools being built, South Forsyth has had to split up twice in twelve years, causing new local rivals. Her presence on social media surrounding school spirit, respect and pride has a major influence on the students. Her enthusiasm and unwavering spirit have been excellent for maintaining school culture and re-building War Eagle pride each time the school has split.

Kiyun Lynch | Atrisco Heritage Academy High School | Albuquerque, NM

According to those at Atrisco Heritage Academy High School, Kiyun Lynch is head and shoulders above the rest in the entire state of New Mexico. The passion Kiy has for his job is inspiring not only to his student athletes, but the whole community. On average, Kiy receives over fifty injuries a month, ranging from sprained ankles to torn ACL’s and many more. He develops a recovery plan for each athlete, specific to their needs, and makes sure they have a full understanding of their injury and recovery before they leave his office. He is so passionate about his field that he sacrifices his weekends to ensure the athletes stay on track for recovery and offers his time and effort to help other schools in the state with a shortage of athletic trainers. Throughout the state, Kiy’s dedication has been recognized by many. His commitment is demonstrated through him teaching classes, attending games, competitions, matches, etc. Through his work, he shares both his knowledge and devotion to his students who someday aspire to fill his shoes. He also makes it a priority to attend all sporting events of Atrisco Heritage. Kiy makes the effort to take care of both his athletes at school and his family at home. Many athletes look up to him as an example of a positive role model, and he can even be viewed as a father figure. He doesn’t settle for anything less than the best for Atrisco Heritage, his family and himself.

Columbia High School | East Greenbush, NY

Columbia High School was one of the first New York State Athletic programs to commit to being a part of the Unified Sports Initiative. The Unified Sports Initiative is inclusive sports programs that bring students with and without disabilities together in a single sports team program with authentic competitions. One of Columbia High School’s mottos at school is “Choose to Include”. Columbia High School encouraged their state section to add an additional Unified sport – bowling. They have continued to see growth in participation and a deep impact of the student body. Columbia creates a community where everyone’s ideas and talents are recognized, and every student’s development is important. Attending Unified games at Columbia, one can’t help but feel the school spirit in the gym. It doesn’t end there. It is present and evident everywhere, from the hallways to the common areas to the number of students representing Columbia through their apparel. Blue Devil pride is strong, and EVERYONE identifies at a Blue Devil.

 

Trabuco High School | Mission Viejo, CA

Trabuco Hills High School started an “Inclusion Revolution”. Trabuco Hills HS was the first Unified Champion School in Orange County, California.  They created and implemented the first inclusive Unified Physical Education class in all of California.  The goal was to bring students with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities together not as “buddies,” but as equitable classmates and peers—with an equal mix of students in a 50/50 ratio. This resulted in unified athletes being voted as homecoming king and queen, unified athletes receiving Varsity letter, unified pairs delivering speeches at graduation, and more. Together with the help of all students, staff, and administrators, Trabuco Hills won the GOAL Award (Grazer Outstanding Achievement in Learning) for inclusive programing in all of California as well as the 2019 Golden Bell Award for Equity and Access for the state of California. Trabuco Hills High School truly started a revolution, and continues to strive to embrace equality, respect, kindness, and acceptance throughout their campus and community.

Arapahoe High School | Centennial, CO

Arapahoe High School’s student choir is not only one that is highly talented, but one that is inclusive, growing, and inspiring their talents to plenty of community groups that need the spirit provided by this group. Students in the “Arapahoe Singers” choir perform in many events that are dedicated to the community. The Singers have tripled their membership in just a few years, thus tripling the love among community organizations. That spirit takes place at school events, nearby nursing homes, holiday parades, churches, NBA games, elementary schools, competitions, local music festivals, New York City, Denver Children’s Hospital, cabaret, and more. This choir is a group that students want to be a part of because of it’s altruistic intents, it’s high standard of excellence, and it’s spirit that allows kids to feel passionate about their artistic pursuits. This choir has quickly become one of the most celebrated groups in the school and community. They include everyone and remind those that the arts can be a force of stability and good in community.

Carlsbad High School “Sound Express” | Carlsbad, CA

Carlsbad High School’s show choir, Sound Express, showcases a mix of teamwork, competition, skill, and creativity. This choir consists of 52 students, meets as a class during the school day, and spends over four hours outside of school per week in rehearsal. Carlsbad Sound Express starts off the year by performing for teachers in their welcome back to school assembly. Throughout the year, the choir performs at lunch and other school-wide activities. Sound Express performs the national anthem at basketball games and football games throughout the year. Sound Express performs at various community service programs for local nonprofit organizations, such as the Assistance League and the Carlsbad Educational Foundation. Carlsbad Sound Express is unique in that they tie together the athletes and the artists; as they perform for both types of events, they have a large presence at the school, and encourage others to do the same.

Dotteanna Garlington | Anacostia High School | Camp Springs, MD

Dr. Dotteanna Garlington is the school psychologist at Anacostia High School and decided to develop a dance team to provide students the opportunity to dance and represent their school. Previously, as a Title I school, only 20% of the 9th and 10th grade student body had GPAs above 2.0. Since the creation of the dance team, the members have not only increased their GPAs, but they’ve also improved their behavior at school and at home. Dr. Garlington believes that all schools should focus on utilizing extracurricular activities, especially sports for fitness, and engage students in fostering self-motivation, creativity, academic excellence and social/emotional development. Not only has Dr. Garlington established a three-day practice schedule for 10 hours a week, as well as purchased the dance team outfits at her own expense, but she has also been tracking the grades of the members of her team through an ECA Model, and works with them one on one to develop effective communication skills when speaking with adults and peers. Dotteanna’s goal is to have the entire team at a 2.5 GPA by the end of the season.

 

Tlaloc Venancio | Crawford High School | San Diego, CA

When Tlaloc Venancio became a coach at Crawford High School in 2016, started the cross-country program from scratch. He went out and recruited from PE classes, kids walking the halls, and anyone willing to try the sport. Many of his athletes were refugees, weren’t fluent in English, lacked basic nutrition and were having a hard time in school. Coach knew he had to address these issues, so he started bringing meals for practice. At times you would see the boys stop by Coach Tlaloc’s house after practice, and he and his wife would feed them dinner. Eventually, Coach was able to start an after-school tutoring program that helped tutor the athletes and fed them properly before and after practice. In his second year of coaching, the team was CIF Runner Ups. This year, the team became CIF Champions – The first time in 43 years since the cross-country team at Crawford had won a CIF Championship. Coach Tlaloc has sacrificed so much to be the best coach, husband, and father he can be. He knows the true meaning of loving students and giving his all to them to make a change in the school, program, and community. He truly believes that running can change people’s lives, like it changed his.

Bingham High School | South Jordan, UT

Bingham High School is a school that heavily revolves around traditions created by the first generations of Bingham Miners. One of Bingham’s most cherished traditions is the annual charity fundraiser every December called True Blue. Throughout the month of December, the Bingham students chose to fundraise for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Starlight Foster Program, and the Jordan Education Foundation, resulting in a total of $50,000 raised for these charities. During this entire month, students organized unique fundraising opportunities to help promote these three charities. Most notably, they host a “Mr. True Blue Pageant” in which students competed to be crowned with the title “Mr. True Blue”. This fun-filled event showcased the creative talents and personalities of the 13 contestants. Most importantly, the participants had worked with a specific cause to highlight and bring awareness to. Bingham has stood together through football games, school dances, pep rallies, and everything in between, but nothing compares to the moment when students stand together to make a difference in a cause that means so much to them.

 

Broome High School | Spartanburg, SC

From small, quiet gestures of goodwill to acts of kindness covered by the local news, the Gettys D. Broome High School community is living their mission statement to provide experiences and teach world class skills and values to empower all students to achieve their fullest potential. The Broome community demonstrates their servants’ heart inside their own school, out in the community, as well as across the country to help other students they don’t even know. To name a few, when the Saugus High School in California experienced a school shooting and lost two students, the student leaders at Broome filled Care packages from every group on campus and sent them to Saugus High. Next, Broome students sold pizza to raise enough money to go out in the community and surprise community members by filling their gas tanks at Christmas time. The students’ goal was to raise $10,000 for their 12 Days of Giving program – They broke their own goal and with a grand total of $12,185.34, which allowed them give 700 kids in their community a wonderful Christmas. This community of teenagers has become the symbolism of light in a world that can seem very dark and has redefined the meaning of spirit.

Creekside High School | St. Johns, FL

Each Friday at Creekside High School begins with the Power of Creekside Band, as they march the students into school to kick off game day. The cheerleaders, dance team and the Shining Knights take the field with the school banner as the crowd anticipates the team taking the field. The Power of Creekside Band and the cheer and dance program work together every week to provide a game day experience that is relatable to a college experience. Working closely together with music and choreography, timing of specific cadences/cheers and travel to away games as a complete unit. Throughout every home game, members of the student body—the Creekside Crazies—come down from the stands to help lead the crowd in their favorite cheers. These student volunteers can’t wait to run out onto the field after every touchdown to display the team’s flags with pride as the Power of Creekside plays the school fight song. The energy created at a home game is also brought at each away game with this group of school spirit leaders. In St. John’s, Florida, everyone knows when it’s game day!

Templeton High School | Templeton, CA

Game Day Traditions have evolved over for the years, and at Templeton High School, “game day” means everyone is involved. From people of all ages, elementary age through senior citizens, that form a human tunnel to welcome our players to the field, to community businesses wearing Templeton green on game day to show their spirit, Templeton pride bleeds out from the school into the entire community on game days. These groups work to provide purposeful presence at ALL athletic clubs and groups. Whether a volleyball, tennis, soccer or football game, a large contingency of students ALWAYS shows up. They have weekly themes, and the number of committed students is huge and growing. The Templeton “Wingmen” have elevated the spirit and pride that all students feel at THS. It is not uncommon to see businesses with homemade signs adorning the front of their buildings down Main Street sharing encouraging words for players, families and fans, tailgates uniting students across grade levels and groups, and community members opening their restaurants for team meals. The impact of Templeton’s game day experience can be seen, heard, smelled, but best experienced firsthand.

Carolina High School | Greenville, SC

At Carolina High School, graduation begins the first day of school. They challenge every senior to do “Whatever it Takes” throughout the year to walk across the stage by signing the graduation robe that one wears at graduation. It is a contract and a symbol of hope for each student. It hangs in the front office as a constant reminder of what they agreed too. Carolina is a 100% free lunch school which means that many of students live in poverty and fight every day just to make it, nonetheless, graduate. A student-led Graduation Committee designs the entire graduation. From the design of the caps and gowns, to the music selected, to the speakers, and the events that will take place throughout the program. On a special day in April, the graduation committee holds a cap and gown reveal. Family members can come to the school and robe their child, and for most, it is a truly powerful and emotional experience. Graduation at Carolina high school is unique, memorable and celebrated all school year long.

 

Killeen Independent School District | Killeen, TX

The Killeen Independent School District’s Grad Cast began with casual conversations 16 years ago between a U.S. Army general and a high school geography teacher that led to a touching global connection effort that continues in 2020. Situated among one of the world’s largest military bases, many Killeen ISD students graduate high school knowing that there is a chance one or both parents may not be present due to deployment overseas. In a spectacular effort that bridged nine time zones, military and school district leaders worked with technology specialists to link eight high school graduation ceremonies from an arena in Belton, Texas 7,000 miles away to a Camp Victory compound outside Baghdad, Iraq.  Soldiers in Iraq watch in the middle of the night as their sons and daughters walked across the stage to receive their diploma. To the same effect, the student can see the parents’ faces as they do so. Even in a more connected world today, the special link between a deployed soldier parent and graduating senior is intensely powerful. Graduation is a student’s largest milestone, and Killeen ISD ensures that a parent will witness it anywhere in the world.

Lauryn McCormack | Lyons Township High School | La Grange, IL

Lauryn knew she wanted to be the Lyons Township High School Lion mascot ever since she was a little girl. The first time she put on the Lion, she was so excited to see little kids get so excited, just like she did when she first saw the Lion. Lauryn immediately felt a sense of involvement since she first put on the costume her freshman year. She spent all four years of high school working with the band, cheerleaders and super fans for game day. She was a part of many functions in school, homecoming parades, greeting alumni, hot chocolate Fridays, school assemblies, and all home games for all sports. Lauryn was also instrumental in creating the new mascot design. During Lauryn’s time as the Lyons Township Lion, she has revolutionized the role of the mascot. She has taken on a leadership role, helping to build the yearly schedule of all events and training new recruits in proper mascot performance. She wants to make sure that the next person who wears this costume is just as passionate, if not more, than she was on her first day at Lyons Township High School.

 

Mike McKibben | Aquilla Independent School | Aquilla, TX

Mike McKibben coined the name “MAC”, standing for Mikey the Aquilla Cougar and created the personality of a big brother. This has shown the Aquilla community there is always a friend in MAC, making Aquilla Independent School a better place. Mike bought and created over 40 different outfits and purchased all props and small gifts that he can distribute to little Cougars everywhere he goes in hopes of brightening someone’s day. You can find MAC at all athletic events, but more importantly, MAC attends events all over the school. MAC can be found greeting students on the first day of school, transforming the costume for different holidays or events, delivering toys at the children’s’ hospital during Christmas, or posting uplifting messages on MAC’s Facebook page to inspire students. When Mike puts on the mascot uniform, he fully exceeds his role to be the most spirited supporter of Aquilla. He has practiced becoming something great and never misses the opportunity to make someone smile.

Northwest High School | Jackson, MI

The Marching Mounties of Northwest High School create the best home field advantage in all high school athletics. A presence at every home football and basketball game, the band of Mounties leads the whole community in support of Northwest’s student athletes. The Marching Mounties are a constant presence at rallies, parades, assemblies and within the community. This band is the only band in the state that dresses as their mascot. The Mountie hat, the leather belt, the gauntlets, and distinct red of the jacket is iconic in the Jackson community. In the stands, the Marching Mounties make their biggest impact. Constantly chanting, cheering, and playing, the band coordinates with the cheerleaders to lead the student section in creating an atmosphere where everyone is cheering the players onto victory. The Marching Mounties are a staple to Northwest High School, and place spirit and pride at the center of their program.

 

Ramona High School | Riverside, CA

The Ramona High School Dynasty Band and Color Guard provide entertainment and service via performances at all football games, competitions, parades and special events on and off campus. This group is an integral and invaluable component of Ramona’s Creative and Performing Arts Magnet, contributing to a positive school environment by providing music and showcasing band students at a variety of events. Building that “dynasty” begins by consistently working with Ramona’s feeder schools. This group regularly collaborates with the middle and elementary schools.  The Dynasty Band and Color Guard are also supporters of district-wide band events, participating in and hosting Band Extravaganza, the Lester Oaks Field Tournament, and the spring Concert Festival. With the amount that this group travels and events they part take; some would be surprised to know Ramona High School serves a population of 82% who qualify for the free/reduced lunch program. The students exceed their fundraising goals each year because they care deeply about the past, present and future of the Ramona Dynasty Band and Color Guard.

Dusty Johns – William R. Boone High School | Orlando, FL

In Dusty Johns’ four years of service at Boone High, he has prioritized long-held traditions that he has supported, taken part in and even revitalized. Each year, Mr. Johns starts off the year with an assembly for each class that is filled with performances from the cheerleaders, dance teams, drumline, band and other fun competitive activities. While Mr. Johns fuels past and present traditions, he has also developed new and innovative ways to get students excited to be part of Boone High. In his first year, he implemented a field day for seniors called “Senior Olympics”. This event has become a staple in the culture at Boone High, and one of the best parts about becoming a senior. This year, Mr. Johns supported the senior class in their first ever “senior-sunrise”, where he joined the senior class on the athletic field at 6 AM for breakfast, yard games, music, and fun as they watched the sunrise as a class. On the last day of school for seniors this past year, they took part in the first ever “senior sunset” as they all watched the sun set on their high school careers. Mr. Johns is insistent on every student participating in the BHS alma mater, so he plays it on the morning announcements each Friday to symbolize that win or lose, everyone stands together at Boone High with unity.

 

Kathy Longenbaugh | East Noble High School | Kendallville, IN

Kathy Longenbaugh is more than a principal at East Noble High School. She committed to changing the culture, and her actions have illustrated just that. She makes coffee for her staff, writes inspirational messages in the teachers’ lounge, decorates the ladies’ room, and makes herself completely visible and accessible to all students. She models kindness, thoughtfulness and belonging.  While in a position of authority where one must hold students and staff accountable, she values relationships and handles herself with grace and fairness. Kathy can be found at fine arts performances, cheering at sporting events, greeting students in the morning, attending community events, presenting at award nights, strolling through lunch duty, even consoling a student in need.  She knows that many students will spend more time here in school than they do at home. As a result, she has made East Noble a safe haven for her students.

April Rogers | Winchester Community High School | Winchester, IN

There used to be a time at Winchester Community High School where the school counselor was the person students went to with scheduling issues, but April Rogers has revolutionized her role at WCHS. April is the epitome of dedication; she devotes every aspect of her life to her students.  As part of working with students, April strives to make deep and meaningful connections. She encourages students at every turn along their journey of growing up, and always reminds them to ask questions. Her drive to help students doesn’t stop with scheduling changes and college applications. She is constantly walking through the hallway with a smile on her face, saying hello to anyone she sees. The Falcon spirit is strong within April as she cheers on the school at every event, and supports students across all organizations of the school. From participating in spirit days to rooting for students on their standardized tests, she wants to see WCHS students succeed. April Rogers is selfless in her compassion, relentless in her devotion, and steadfast in her desire to make her school just a little bit better.

 

Charles Jason McPeak | Logan Senior High School | Logan, WV

Charles “Jason” McPeak goes above and beyond his duties of counselor; he is also an advisor, club sponsor, test-coordinator, supporter, and friend. His office is a place of acceptance. From walls decorated with superheroes, to the sand Zen garden, and television showing inspirational quotes, it’s very easy to relax and think differently by the time you leave. Often, there’s a line forming outside his door. Jason was instrumental in bringing the Beta Club to Logan High School. He led the initiative for a kind, encouraging quote to be placed on every locker in the building before Thanksgiving Break, as well as around Winter Break. He also spearheaded the team that made wreaths for every teacher, administrator, and service professional. Not only is Mr. McPeak supporting students academically, he’s supporting them in their extracurricular achievements as well. Jason works the ticket box for all football and basketball games. He attends cheer competitions, baseball games, wrestling matches, performing arts performances, etc. If the Wildcats are there, so is he. The culture at Logan Senior High School has been changed for the better since Charles Jason McPeak joined the Wildcat family.

Cleburne County High School | Heflin, AL

From lunchroom staff, to faculty, to administration, Cleburne County High School has a staff of approximately 80% Cleburne County graduates. One of the most important traditions at Cleburne County is the earning of a “Tiger Tail” – a length of red, white and black yard braided that symbolizes achievement. In 1999, a teacher and Cleburne County alumna started braiding tails and giving them to athletes upon the completion of a season. This tradition transformed into giving someone a Tiger Tail who was struggling. The black yard represents hardships, white represents forgiveness, and red represents the trials and tribulations. A Tiger Tail is a labor of love from one another representing the spirit of encouragement, a spirit of togetherness, a spirit of belonging to something that is larger than any one person. Together, the Tiger Tail represents Tiger pride. At Cleburne County, you will see Tiger Tails proudly draped around students’ rear-view mirrors, around fans’ necks on game day, integrated into a spirited outfit, strapped to their bags as a badge of honor, or used as rally towels during pep rallies. The saying of “tradition never graduates” couldn’t be truer at Cleburne County High School.

Meridian High School | Meridian, ID

Meridian High was the original school in town. When Mountain View was built, it split school boundaries, students and even staff. The “Stinky Sneaker” basketball game is a spirit competition between Meridian and Mountain View. Each student council has a time limit to decorate their side of the gym and spirit leaders spend weeks raising awareness about the game and trying to get all students to attend. The spirit contest is judged by outside community members which this year included a Meridian City Councilman and the President of Boise State University. Several criteria go into deciding who wins the prestigious Chuck Taylor shoe trophy including sportsmanship, volume, student-body participation, community participation and overall spirit. The idea of Stinky Sneaker was born from a staff member, Randy Fout, who originally started at Meridian, and then was reassigned to Mountain View after it was built. He tried to establish traditions quickly at Mountain View so the students felt a sense of belonging. Randy passed away in 2006, but his spirit is carried on through the Stinky Sneaker game. At Meridian High, they always “scream and shout for Randy Fout” on Stinky Sneaker night. Through this competition, Randy’s memory lives on at both schools that he spent so much of his life.

Beech High School | Hendersonville, TN

When the Beech High School cheerleaders are not cheering on the sidelines, creating and painting signs and banners in the school, raising spirit during pep rallies, or running flags with students out on the field, you can find them serving their community. They partner with Barefoot Republic Camp, serve with the Bridge Ministry, and foster a mentorship program where they are assigned to a younger cheerleader within the community for the year. David Kinman, Assistant Principal of Beech High School, speaks to their academic excellence as well, “Last year, over half of the cheerleading squad finished the year with a 4.0 GPA because of each student-athlete’s meticulous devotion to their studies and their team.” Through their commitment in serving the greater Nashville community, encouraging and raising school spirit, and dedicating themselves to academics, the Beech High School Cheerleaders are the drivers of Buccaneer pride.

Marvin Ridge High School | Waxhaw, NC

Marvin Ridge High School was only created in 2007, but the Maverick Dancers immediately found their breath, spirit and passion in dancing for the school and became woven into the Maverick fabric. They perform at every football, basketball, volleyball, soccer, tennis and lacrosse games, and create posters for every athletic and artistic team at the beginning of each season to show them that every group is important. In addition to the heavy support of Marvin Ridge activities, they also immerse themselves into their Waxhaw community. They volunteer for The Isabella Santos Foundation 5K Run annually, a future Mav Dancer who lost her battle to childhood cancer. They also choose a different non-profit to support each year: Women’s shelters, animal shelters and local hospitals to name a few. “The Marvin Ridge dancers consistently represent the best of the best among the student athletes in our school” says Donna Cook, Principal of Marvin Ridge High School, “The poise, talent, dynamic choreography, and value the dance team adds to athletic events, pep rallies, community events, service opportunities and more cannot be overstated.”

Rio Rancho High School | Rio Rancho, NM

The Rio Rancho High School cheerleaders have a strong belief in building up their squad with a focus on academics first, accountability, integrity and a tradition of excellence. When the cheerleaders aren’t unifying their student body, alumni and fans at athletic events, they’re immersing themselves in the community. They serve annually at the Rio Grande Down Syndrome Association Buddy Walk, team up with Caring through Clothing, volunteer at Cabezon Community Give Back, participate in the “Celebrity Reading” program at local elementary schools and host an annual Team Up for St. Jude Game Day. This year’s St. Jude Game Day resulted in over $1,000 raised for childhood cancer research. Head Coach, Wendy Lopez, summed up her team best, “My athletes know how important it is to find balance. Cheerleading is an outlet, the only happy place for some. It becomes a family and a strong bond is formed. They can do anything they set their minds to, and they are all in it together.”

Ronald Reagan High School | San Antonio, TX

Ronald Reagan Dance prides itself on its heavy involvement in the San Antonio community and rigorous academic success. They developed a drive with Haven for Hope, organize a canned food drive with the San Antonio Food Bank annually, all while maintaining the highest average GPA out of Reagan athletics. Another activity that the dance team takes school pride is its inclusivity with the 300-member Reagan Band Program known as “Band Dance”. Similar to Color Guard, Band Dance is a group of dancers that perform with the band to showcase dance technique in the 11-minute band show for the duration of the fall competition season. Reagan is the only school in the nation that integrates dance with band at this level. “Ronald Reagan High School is a better place because of our dance program” says Robin Hays, Assistant Principal at Ronald Reagan High School, “The girls are held to the highest standard and are positive examples of leaders for all students”.

Bishop Gorman Catholic School | Tyler, TX

The Bishop Gorman Varsity cheerleaders are role models, leaders, and contribute to many events and activities outside of their responsibilities. The cheerleaders revolutionized the motto “stronger together”, by having each athletic team at Bishop Gorman adopt this phrase and support one another. The success of each team can multiply with a strong support system, and that initiative was spread widely throughout the school. The Bishop Gorman cheerleaders worked with Team Inspire, a local cheerleading team made up of 20 athletes ranging in ages 5-25 with varying special needs. Each cheerleader was paired with an Inspire member and shared moments of joy in learning how to cheer and work together, even when the lines of communication can be difficult. The theme of Team Inspire’s cheer this year was “Let’s make a Difference.” sportsmanship takes on a whole new meaning when people chose to dedicate their time to be a part of something bigger, something extending sportsmanship beyond a court, football field or sideline.

Christian Academy Schools | Sidney, OH

In addition to praying with the opposing team before each match for a successful and fair game, The Christian Academy volleyball team went above and beyond to show their grace and compassion towards a school rival. When catching word that an opposing team’s senior would be out at their upcoming game due to an injury, Christian Academy stepped it up. They put together a care basket full of comfort items a travel mug, candy, hot chocolate, a blanket and of course a volleyball signed by the Christian Academy team. Team members kept in contact with the team member throughout the season to know exactly when she had surgery and how recovery was going. While many teams would view this situation as an advantage for an easy win, Christian Academy saw this experience as much larger than volleyball. They took the time to made sure this volleyball player was thought about and prayed for during her senior season.

Cherokee County School District| Canton, GA

The Cherokee County School District wanted to provide an opportunity for senior athletes, cheerleaders, band members, JROTC cadets, video production members and coaches to have “one more game” in a community event that would bring all six of the high schools together in a fun-filled evening. That one event turned into several community events to showcase the community comradery and district’s commitment to fundraise on behalf of the children at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  All 40 schools, including all 43,000 students and more than 5,000 staff members, are active participants in the “One More Game for No More Cancer/Team Up for St. Jude” campaign. Through the creative efforts of students and teachers, more than $200,000 has been raised for St. Jude in the last four years.  Schools have created hat days, PJs for St. Jude days, penny wars, daddy/daughter dances, snack sales, lunch with the principal fundraisers, pie-in-the-face competitions, and other great events to generate funds in order to benefit St. Jude’s mission to end childhood cancer. In the words of Danny Thomas, “No child should die in the dawn of life.”

Union High School | Union, NJ

Union High School’s St Jude Classic is something the community looks forward to annually. This year, they began by working with TV production students to produce a virtual assembly promoting the St. Jude mission and St Jude Week events. All students participated in the school’s first St. Jude letter-writing campaign in their English classes.  Students brought mailing materials and sent letters to encourage others to visit their fundraising page. They began St. Jude Week with the St. Jude Rally. Many student organizations including Cheerleading, Robotics Club, NAHS, German Club, Class Council, and more created teams and filled the library. During St. Jude Week, staff and students volunteer countless hours in countless ways. They create fliers, advertise on social media, contact businesses to become sponsors, sell raffles and t-shirts, pick up donations, work the raffle tables and concession stand, set up, and clean up.  It is truly a unified Union. Union High School’s St. Jude Classic brings together thousands of people, 6 different schools, local businesses from 6 different towns, all ten Union Township schools, the Union Township Board of Education and central office administration, and the entire Union High School administrative team, faculty, staff, and student body for great events and a great cause. They have donated over $16,600 this year, raising their 5-year total to over $51,500.

Kevin Simonds | Carlsbad High School | Carlsbad, CA

Kevin Simonds is the student body finance clerk at Carlsbad High School, but he also prides himself on being the biggest cheerleader and mentor for his students. Kevin consistently works outside his job description to promote the spirit of the school and well-being of students around him. Voluntarily, Kevin remodeled and renovated the CHS student store. He spent countless hours laying floor tiles, building countertops, adding storage, painting, organizing, and setting up all the technology for a new computer system put into use this year. He sacrificed numerous weekends and even time over his Thanksgiving break to perfect every detail for the enjoyment of the student body. The environment Kevin provides in his office is one of safety, comfort, and fun. Students know Kevin is a safe person to talk to and get advice from about life situations. Kevin is a key component of what makes Carlsbad High School a wonderful place. He exudes spirit for the school as well as passion for making each day a great day to be a Lancer.

Tammy Bice | Liberty High School | Liberty, SC

Tammy is a front office receptionist at Liberty High School, and she is the true “face” of the school for students, admin and visitors. She gives each person that walks through those doors a warm, welcome South Carolina greeting. Her school spirit and relationships with students greatly affects the climate and culture at school. The number of students who go out of their way to stop into the office and visit her, one would think she is the school counselor. She knows each student by name, and if someone is new, she makes it a point to get to know them. There is never a day where a parent, community member, sales representative, or school district employee leaves the school without making a comment about Tammy’s professional and compassionate nature. Tammy will make sure to wish students luck on their way to a game, check in with them if she knows they had an exam, and make sure they’ve had enough to eat. Everyone goes home to a different story, so to walk in the doors to Tammy Bice is to walk into a safe-haven and unconditional loving environment.

Andrea Sanchez | Beech High School | Hendersonville, TN

Andrea loves to be involved with everything that includes Beech High School, whether that is cheering during pep rallies or on the sideline at home football games, dances, or any school functions. Andrea can be seen enthusiastically involved and at the center of the Buccaneer spirit at these events in full orange and blue and a smile on her face. If there is one thing Andrea is adamant about it is welcoming students in the hallway. Her interpreter signs to her that the bell has rung, and Andrea immediately heads for the door. Between each block, she can be seen outside of the classroom greeting each student with a smile, wave, or a high five. She continues her commitment to her academics as a dedicated student who is a leader in the classroom. She shows respect for her fellow classmates and teachers, her translator, and volunteers to help when the opportunity arrives. Andrea is a student who doesn’t let the challenges that she faces slow her down or damper her spirit. She sees purpose in what she does as she greets the students of Beech High School each day outside of her classroom, she sees joy in raising her poms to encourage student participation, and she sees how much she has learned and improved as a Beech High School student.

Garrett Lynch | Lake Hamilton High School | Hot Springs, AR

At Lake Hamilton High School, Garrett Lynch is the emotional and spirited leader of the team on the football field.  He also serves on the other side as the student section leader for basketball games, both boys and girls, for three years.  Garrett has never missed a game for either team both at home or on the road.  He also serves in this energetic role for cheer competitions, cross country meets, wrestling matches and volleyball games. As an athlete, he knows how important school support is at the games, so he does his part to lead that energy when he can attend a game. While juggling being an athlete himself and supporting all other athletes at their events across the school, Garrett also excels in the classroom. He encourages the student section to “work hard, play hard” so they can have as much fun as they can at school events while maintaining success at school. Garrett hopes to continue this spirited tradition at the University of Arkansas after high school.

Colquitt County High School | Moultrie, GA

The Peer Leadership Organization at Colquitt County High School began over twenty years ago, not only with the goal to help develop student’s leadership qualities, but also to develop and grow the school’s traditions and overall spirit through student activities. The Peer Leadership organization is made up of a diverse group of students and rigorous application process, including the strengths they can bring to the organization, how they will be a team player, and what does it mean to be a positive role model in and out of school. Peer Leadership works to promote Packer Pride through numerous events and projects. Starting in the very beginning of school, they host a back to school bash that includes games in the courtyard with music and prizes. They organize all the events of Homecoming, including; dress up days with prizes, homecoming court voting, homecoming parade, homecoming pep rally, and the homecoming ceremony the night of football game.  They also volunteer at different community events such as Festival on the Square, The Y, The Forgotten Initiative, and many serve as mentors to elementary students. These students work very well together and love seeing their ideas unfold and come together. All year these students work hard to maintain a positive school climate that includes all 2,000 students of Colquitt County High School.

 

Kahuku High and Intermediate School | Kahuku, HI

Kahuku High and Intermediate School runs deep with over 120 years of tradition. The student government at Kahuku has helped many of those traditions remain alive. They are an organized and creative group of young people dedicated to representing their school with respect and responsibility for themselves and their community. Student government leaders spend countless hours planning practices, writing lyrics, practicing dance moves, and going over scripts in order to follow in the footsteps of their parents and siblings. These student leaders follow the national student council and the four pillars, Leadership, Engagement, Voice and Service. They ensure that every activity is inclusive, accessible, safe and inviting. Student government has started a monthly birthday celebration of everyone’s birthday on campus each month complete with cake and ice cream. They also came in during the summer months to remodel school bathrooms with positive words of affirmation, and the students took pride in their new bathroom. The Kahuku High and Intermediate School Student Government spends so much time thinking about the students in the school, and how they can help create the best years of their lives.

Brian Hightower | Cherokee County School District | Canton, GA

Dr. Brian Hightower is responsible for the education of 42,500 students, the employment of 5,000 people, and the management of $500 million in taxpayer dollars annually. The roles in which his spirit shines the brightest are encourager, cheerleader and supporter.  His passion for ensuring that every student, employee, parent, and community partner feels included and appreciated is evident in all he does, especially in his Social and Emotional Learning initiative. This allows students to thrive social and emotionally while maintaining the highest levels of academic success. The Cherokee County School District Social and Emotional Framework includes components for Equity and Cultural Competency, a Positive Behavior Framework, Mental Health, Suicide Prevention, and Staff Health and Well-being. Through the vision and leadership of Dr. Brian Hightower, this framework promotes the unity, spirit, kindness, compassion, empathy, and philanthropy necessary for the Cherokee County School District to thrive. Dr. Hightower’s #CCSDFam campaign was created to celebrate successes and highlight CCSD’s outstanding culture and climate. He shows up everywhere from the sidelines of athletic events to the sidelines of academic bowl and delivers messages of gratitude everywhere from new employee orientations to retirement celebrations. The spirit of Dr. Hightower is doing whatever it takes to help each child feel like a Most Valuable Player.

Rick Foreman | Trenton High School | Trenton, TX

Rick Foreman wears many hats at Trenton High School. He has not only served in the district for 25 years as the superintendent, but he has also coached just about every sport, AND he is a bus driver for the school. That is right – This superintendent starts his bus route at 5am every morning, because the district is low on bus drivers and feels as though it is his duty to pick up the slack. Coach Foreman will empty the trash, deliver the mail to campuses and if you’re lucky, you might catch him in the middle school principal’s office preparing his next dance. The man can dance! He starts the party at pep rallies, prom, school events, or anywhere else requested. The best part is that many of these dances happen in suits that he has to match each and every holiday. Mr. Foreman’s love of students is evident but so is his dedication to his staff. He knows everyone in the district and has an open door for the staff and community. To know Mr. Foreman is know what he stands for, and that is the students and all members of Trenton ISD.

Tyler Kunick | Muskego High School | Muskego, WI

Tyler Kunick is a teacher, coach, and mentor to many students at Muskego High School. He wrote the curriculum for a new class called “Leadership” where students learn about different leadership styles, volunteer for community service, and come up with new events to bring the entire student body together. This class, with the help of Kunick, has created a term called “Character Dares” within the student body. Students strive to apply leadership principles in their everyday life both inside and outside the wall of Muskego High School. He strives to make all students better and pushes them to their greatness regardless of their background. When he is not teaching, he is a coach for the football program and girls softball. He also works with various teams across the athletic department to help build mental toughness with his mental training techniques. Outside of sports, he is the Tea Club Advisor (True Equality Alliance) for students of all backgrounds that want to connect for the common good. Tyler does not teach his mission. He lives it every day in his teaching, coaching, volunteering and his actions.

Veronica Christian | Rutland High School | Macon, GA

Dr. Veronica Christian is not only a teacher, but she is also a coach, advisor, director and friend to everyone at Rutland High School. You can find her cheering on the sidelines for athletes that she teaches and for the athletes that she has gotten to know while completing hall duty or lunch duty. She is affectionately called “Momma Christian” for her nurturing personality. As a teacher, Dr. Christian helps students find their talent and thrive. She always finds a way to bring out the best in each student, allowing them to express themselves in class, on stage or behind the stage. Each year, there is a waiting list for her Dramatic Arts class because students want to be a part of her program that changes lives. She gives students the opportunity to build their self-confidence. Building that confidence allows her students to experience success and an inner gratification that can’t always be taught in the classroom. Many of Dr. Christian’s former students are now educators themselves, some working at the very same school or county that she taught them, and they credit it to her. Dr. Christian is dependable, loyal, intelligent, devoted and selfless, and her students say THAT is what defines “spirit”.

Ellie Quinn | Davidson Academy | Nashville, TN

Ellie Quinn, football manager and sophomore at Davidson Academy, grew up watching football. The daughter of an NFL quarterback, the youngest child and the only girl of four children, she is no stranger to cheering on the sideline. That is why, when the opportunity to be the football manager for Davidson Academy presented itself, she took a leap of faith and jumped at the chance – which was no small feat. As a sophomore, Ellie is a three-year starter on the varsity volleyball team. She is a peer model, a leader in the classroom, on the court, and she is a member of the praise band at school where she leads worship during weekly chapel. Adding football manager to her list during volleyball season her freshman year could have proven to be a struggle but instead she took delight in the task. She prides herself as the leader of “her guys” by ensuring they make time in the training room, stay hydrated and study outside of the classroom. The players appreciate Ellie because they know they can depend on her for kind words, encouragement and tough love. Her excitement is contagious, and every small play is celebrated. They have built a strong trust with her and consider her as a vital part of the Davidson Academy football team.

Nicholas Stahrr | Lancaster Central High School | Lancaster, NY

Nick Stahrr is a star. He is the heart and soul of the Lancaster Legends Football team. Nick Stahrr can be seen, all over the field making sure players are focused, water jugs are ready, equipment and signage are in the correct spots and the fans are pumped up. He is locked into each game, motivating the sidelines, ready to take water to the players on the field during timeouts, being a positive influence when his teammates need it, and a reminder of faith to his coaches. His unwavering optimism during a game is contagious. Each day after school, Nick heads out to practice, rain or shine. He is at the ready for whatever the coaches or players need. Most might not see this as anything out of the ordinary or spectacular for a football team manager. For Nick, it is miraculous. Nick Starr was born prematurely with health complications which include Cerebral Palsy. He has spent his entire life in a wheelchair. Nick does not let his limitations stop him from doing the things he is passionate about. Football is one of those passions. His work ethic is admirable. His determination is enviable. His compassion towards others should be emulated. Around the Lancaster campus, the halls are brightened by his infectious smile and heartfelt hello. Nick loves his school and everyone in it, and Lancaster Central High School feels the same about him.

Danville Community High School | Danville, IN

There is a spot for everyone at Danville Community High School. Danville is a home; DCHS is a family. The small, rural town of Danville this school have fostered meaningful connections. It is in this year’s yearbook that DCHS shares it all – the memories of their life spent in Danville, Indiana – and life here at DCHS. It’s in the grit of the athletes and their dedication. It’s in sharing a talent or interest in activities and clubs. It’s in the hours of study and preparation to excel as scholars. And it’s in all the little ways every single student’s different, unique, and special way of being a paragon of the Warrior spirit. Whether this year be the first or last or somewhere in the middle, the year is counted now. And much of it is recollected in the pages of Danville Community’s yearbook. It’s for the seniors to remind them that they made it. It’s for the juniors who are well on their way. It’s for the sophomores who are figuring it out. And for the freshmen who found new adventure in high school. The Danville Community High School yearbook is for remembering a time that may be easily left in the past but not easily forgotten.

Robbinsville High School | Robbinsville, NC

For a small town in North Carolina, Robbinsville High School has a lot of history – And that is exactly what their yearbook theme was for this year. By recreating the past and celebrating history, this also meant celebrating their small community. The RHS yearbook staff used old photos of which many current RHS student’s parents appeared. The yearbook staff collected their favorite old photos throughout past generations and made it their goal to create each one for a modern look into Robbinsville High School today. Many students ended up surprising their parents and family members with the yearbook, which connected families to Robbinsville High School even deeper.