Of the Baker City Herald

Four freshman girls, who already have established themselves as award-winning cheerleaders, will work to bolster school pride at Huntington High School this year.

The girls have revived the cheerleading squad, which was absent from the sidelines because of a lack of interest last year, according to Superintendent Gerald Hopkins.

To energize the team and to prepare for the season, the girls attended USA (United Spirit Association) Cheer Camp in Boise during July.

Although the girls went into the training young and inexperienced, it was no surprise to their biggest fan and coach, Maure Albert, that they came home with a superior award and a spirit stick. The spirit stick was presented to the team for its teamwork, coachability and enthusiasm.

The spirit stick may never touch the ground because our spirits never go that low, explained 14-year-old Lindsay Waldrupe.

Other cheerleaders are 14-year-olds Stephanie Wilcox and Sarah Koenig and Amanda Hayes, 15.

The girls have wanted to be cheerleaders since they were little and remember watching the squads who led the Locomotive fans in past years.

They hope in the same way to inspire the younger students who watch them during this years sports seasons.

We want to set a good example for the little kids, said Amanda Hayes.

They also will work to be good role models for their high school peers.

Even before the school year began, the girls established their reputations as hard workers.

They purchased their new uniforms with money raised by washing 18-wheelers at the Farewell Bend truck stop, collecting pop cans and selling baked goods.

The community has been amazing, Albert said, noting that nearly $500 was collected in the can drive alone.

Albert does her part to encourage a strong work ethic by rising at 4:30 a.m. daily to leave her home in Baker City by 5:30 and arrive at school by 6:30 for the morning cheerleading practice Monday through Thursday.

Thats the only time the girls have to work on their cheerleading skills because of volleyball practice, which is scheduled after school. Sarah is the only one of the four who is not also on the volleyball team.

To get Huntington residents more involved in supporting the school teams, the girls plan to hold community-wide pep assemblies at 12:30 on game days this year.

Just because were a small school doesnt mean we cant have excellent cheerleaders, Stephanie said.

Hopkins added his support for the girls and the efforts that will make to improve school pride during the year.

Were pretty proud of them and Mrs. Albert and their accomplishments, he said.

Last year, the school emphasized discipline as its theme for the year, Hopkins said. And this year, the focus was shifted to school pride.

Were going to build it back up, he said. Were resting the burden on (the cheerleaders) shoulders. Were going to carry this pride business through them to the other students.

Hopkins also hopes to spread the enthusiasm he and the cheerleaders have for the district throughout the community.

The school has received state and national awards for its incentive programs for students, which have resulted in higher test scores throughout the district, according to the superintendent.

The school began its incentive programs with the Drop Everything And Read program, which requires students to do just that: Stop all other activity and pick up a book every day.

The schools Read and Run to Disneyland program will be offered again this year through sponsorships from Ash Grove Cement, Disneyland and Southwest Air. The school awards a trip to Disneyland to one student whose name is drawn from among the top runners and top readers, as well as top readers from the Accelerated Reading program.

This year, an incentive will be added for middle school and high school students through a new program titled Journey With the Jazz, in cooperation with the Utah Jazz basketball team. The students with the top grade-point averages, or those who receive the presidential physical fitness award from each class in Grades 6-12 will be entered in a drawing with two names chosen from Grades 6-8 and two from Grades 9-12. That students and a parent will win a trip to a Utah Jazz game and receive special treatment during the game, Hopkins said.

If that doesnt get kids fired up, I dont know what will, he said.

As proof that the incentive programs work, Hopkins points to results of state tests given last spring, which show the districts students meeting or exceeding state standards in nearly all areas.

Hopkins credits the districts success and recognition to his hard-working staff.

Team playing and teachers working together thats how weve been successful, he said.