Reconnecting with friends at cheer event

Published 4:25 pm Monday, August 20, 2018

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

“The program is tomorrow night at 7 at PHS!”

When a former student, now the mom of a Pelham Youth Cheerleader, messaged me the details of the cheerleader show-off program, I knew this event would be delightful. At this annual Pelham Cheerleading celebration, the elementary cheerleaders reveal what the high school cheerleaders have taught them for the season ahead with their families and friends filling the bleachers in the gym for the show.

All of the squads work hard all week perfecting their dances and cheers for this show. Seeing the high school cheerleaders allowed a moment for touching base with some of my last year’s students to celebrate and commiserate regarding a few AP Lang scores before the show began.

“How’s the week been? I asked PHS Varsity Cheer Sponsor Jean Coker.

“It’s been a fun week,” Coker said. “Each group worked hard and I believe that we have a few more girls than last year. All of the youth sponsors have been really complimentary of girls—and that’s so wonderful to hear.”

Coker introduced me to Rachel Lovett, a Pelham Ridge fourth grade math and science teacher who’s also a cheer sponsor this year.

“We also did a two-hour camp with PPMS and a two-hour practice each day—and then youth camp,” Coker said. “We call it three-a-days!”

These PHS cheerleaders are tough and talented. They received an invitation to Nationals in Orlando this year. When I leaned in to ask a senior if they were making the trip, she shook her head.

“No—the trip is too expensive,” this senior cheerleader whispered.

Suggesting that anything’s possible made her smile.

The cheerleaders’ great performances, and spending a few minutes with old friends and former students Lara Alvis and Ashley Davis Bryant, made for an awesome evening. As the cheerleaders filed outside for cold treats, I realized these two former students needed to be introduced. Former students, two members of my Pelham family, have just met because teachers are the only ones who remain in high school in perpetuity.