The last couple of years have been quite difficult in regards to extracurricular activities for students. Though sports seasons have been coming back, the pandemic has left a lasting impression; one that will take years to recover from to help rebuild programs. One program in particular is trying to engage the Hyde Park community to help rebuild awareness and raise money for their sport.

HMS Cheer Festival Fundraiser

Haviland Middle School's CheerleadingTeam is hosting their HMS Cheer Festival Fundraiser on Saturday, August 13th from 11am to 3pm at the Hyde Park Reformed Dutch Church. The magnitude of this event is not like what you would typically see from a school sport fundraiser, and it's exciting. At the event, expect a 50/50 raffle, a "Cake Walk," DJ, and face painting. You can also purchase $1 tickets (or 7 for $5) to play outdoor games and contests to win prizes. Not just that, but you can cash in those tickets to pie teachers, coaches, and surprise guests in the face! Admission gets you one meal ticket with a drink. Additional food and beverages can be bought separately. The HMS Cheer Festival is also using its platform to support the local food pantry. For every nonperishable item donated, you will receive one raffle ticket for a chance to win one of two free $50 gas cards.

A Reason to Cheer

Jordyn Gala is the head coach of the Haviland Cheerleading team. Gala was once a cheerleader in the Hyde Park Central School District herself, and now gives back to the program that helped raise her. Gala told us the proceeds from this event will be used to help pay for the team to attend a National Cheerleaders Association cheerleading camp, as well as help offset the cost of other things throughout the season.

Curious about how the program has faired since the pandemic, I asked, and Gala had this to say:

"While we are back to having normal seasons, the team has been heavily impacted by the pandemic. The Haviland cheerleading teams used to have 30+ athletes attend tryouts. Since the pandemic, that number has decreased significantly, with only 9 athletes on the team in the fall last year and 15 athletes on the team in our competitive season."
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Discouraging numbers, to be sure. Many youth programs, whether athletic based or not, have been struggling to retain and gain members since the pandemic. It is a different world that we live in now, and it has been difficult on many to find new ways to navigate it. That being said, programs like the HMS Cheer Team can be extremely rewarding for those who find the confidence to step back out there. We received a few testimonials from a few of the cheerleaders.
"It helps me gain strength and learn how to work with a team. It helps me with flexibility and it helps me communicate with people better. It helps me with making my voice louder."
"[The HMS Cheer Team] provides the ability to learn more, be athletic and to have the opportunity to do cheerleading."
"The cheer program offers me a lot of things. Physically, it helps with toning, conditioning, and keeps me healthy. Socially, it helps me meet new people I might not have known. It teaches us how to stay positive even when things are not going well (like cheering the team on if they are losing to encourage them to be positive). It also shows me how to balance sports and school, which will probably be helpful in high school and college. Cheer also helps students learn about leadership and to not have stage fright when at competitions."
We all had something in our lives that we were passionate about when we were young. Perhaps we are still chasing and enjoying whatever that thing may be. I want you to remember that feeling when August 13th comes around, so you can support these terrific student athletes, and help support the health, instruction and morale of our community.

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