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Spirited Scots Cheer Squad Foster Inclusive School Environment and Morale

Members and sponsors of the Spirited Scots share their experiences with the team and reflect on community-wide impact.
Photo by Zoie Carlile
The Spirited Scots and J. J. Pearce cheer squad pose at last regular season home game.

Every pep rally, members of the Spirited Scots cheer squad bring a smile to the faces of students and staff through their exciting performances and bright energy.

The Spirited Scots are a cheer group dedicated to supporting the school’s spirit. They’re an organization that connects students with and without disabilities to alter school culture to where all the students feel valued and acknowledged. The squad engages in spreading the Scot Spirit at Pep rallies, games, and other school events.

“The squad’s purpose is not only to support the various sports teams and school spirit across the community but also to support and send a message of inclusivity by including all of those no matter their ability level,” co-sponsor Sarah Glyn Bean said.
A company called Generation Spirit, whose focus is to organize inclusive school spirit teams, contacted community members and helped the Spirited Scots come to fruition close to 10 years ago.

“That company helped them get the ball rolling, and figure out the logistics of how to run a squad that’s [composed] of both students with and without disabilities, and how to support inclusivity in [their] school through using a cheer squad.”

Since the cheer squad was created, it always had one sponsor. But after the original sponsor left two years ago, two new co-sponsors took over the program. Bean and co-sponsor Tyler Robins have been running the squad, and also helping the team when it comes to their dance routines and practices.

“This is my second season with the Spirited Scots,” Bean said. “They had an open spot and since I am the speech therapist here at the high school, I do know the majority of the kids who are on the squad. They just reached out to me and asked if I was interested in becoming one of the sponsors of the squad.”

Robins joined as a co-sponsor with Bean as soon as she got an interview from the school.

“This is actually my first year with the squad, and teaching, so [there’s] a lot of new [responsibilities] for me,” Robins said. “I was hired this summer to be the Special Education fundamentals teacher and they had an opening to be a co-sponsor.”
Robins’ new role as a co-sponsor for the Spirited Scots allowed her to combine her love for cheerleading, and passion for working with special needs students.

“When they asked me if I was interested, I honestly didn’t know much about it, other than it just sounded amazing but I said ‘yes’ and then started at the cheer camp,” Robins said.

Although both Robins and Bean are relatively new to the program, Bean has already seen the immense impact and joy that the Spirited Scots bring to the community.

“I think it brings a lot of people from different walks of life, and different areas of the school all into one group,” Bean said. “Since it’s not based purely on athletic ability there are a variety of people that get to participate [in events such as] the Fourth of July parade.”

The Spirited Scots practice once a week, bright and early on Monday mornings before school. These practices are an essential aspect of building team morale.

“Everyone we talk to on the squad says it’s their favorite part of starting the week,” Robins said. “We play games, which is a great way to get everyone together at the start of the week, and then we cheer once a week at the football games. The members absolutely love to be involved, included, and have fun.”

Monday practices help the team build relationships with each other, and members are able to grow their coordination social skills while learning the dances they perform at the football games.

When it comes to membership, junior and Spirited Scots squad member Piper Heath believes that being a Spirited Scot requires a certain kind of personality.

“[Members] have to meet a certain criteria. For instance, I’ve been in peer tutoring since eighth grade, and then I’ve [been on the Spirited Scots] ever since my junior year,” Heath said. “They look for participation with students who have special needs, and they look for an outgoing, talkative personality.”

No minimum athletic ability is required for the squad, but the ability to build relationships and foster school spirit is critical. Heath has had much experience with students with special needs.

“I joined the Spirited Scots because of my love for working with students with special needs,” Heath said. “I’ve also started a club called Benefitting Belong, which is based off of a church ministry for people with disabilities.”

Heath’s goal of her time with the squad is to make everyone feel a part of the community and inclusive as a whole.

“Some people frown on kids with disabilities, and I just want them to feel included,” Heath said. “[Spirited Scots] is a way for them to be involved and have fun.”

About the Contributor
Ellie Cooper
Ellie Cooper, Reporter
What are you looking forward to on the staff this year? I'm looking forward to creating great stories, promoting the Bagpipe to the school, and overall having a successful year What are your hobbies? Reading, spending time with friends, and yoga What causes are you passionate about? World hunger, poverty, homelessness, and climate change