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WP junior high students learn to be leaders

September 30, 2011

School was out at Fifth Street Middle School, but there were a handful of students sitting in a classroom Wednesday afternoon learning another lesson.

They weren’t in detention, but these girls, the West Point junior high cheerleaders, were meeting like they have been doing all semester and more importantly becoming better people in school and the community.

“I know that you have heard the saying, ‘nobody likes to be around someone with a negative attitude’”, said Diane Jack, member of the West Point School Board. She is one of several people who have spent a little time talking with them on a weekly basis.

“If you have a negative attitude, people don’t want to be around you,” she added. “If you have a positive attitude, you can draw people. I try and display an attitude that’s pleasing to my school district, to my family, to my students and most of all to my God.”

Jack spent several minutes talking to the girls about attitude, friends, and other topics that these girls can relate to. She says she enjoys talking to them because sometimes hearing the message from someone else might be easier to understand.

Rosezella Reese is the junior high cheerleading coach and organizer of the weekly sessions. Every week she has a guest speaker to come and talk to the squad about how to make themselves better.

“I invite people to come in from the community that’s a leader and I’m just trying to teach the girls to try and stay on track,” she said. “If we teach our young leaders to be leaders they will grow up to do something special. “

“It started with cheerleaders because they are the ambassadors of the school,” she added. “If I can teach them how to lead, than hopefully it will carry over to the other students whether it’s on the field, the court or the classroom.”

Reese is an active member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and during a cookout this summer; organizers had spent some time teaching younger members how to be leaders. She thought why not bring to the schools.

“I started thinking about it and I said ‘Hey, that’s a good idea,” she said. “Every week, somebody has a word – patience, love, kindness – and they get up in front of the group and tell them about it.”

There are no limitations to it. Some could describe what it means to them or simply how important those qualities are good to have in everyone.

“It helps them be aware and respectful because if I could teach them that here, than that will make them model students that everyone could follow,” said Reese.

Reese said that several people in the community really like the idea and each bring a different topic to talk about with the girls. Some, like newly hired superintendent Burnell McDonald, share songs that give a special message.

“They’re listening and picking up on it,” she said. “It seems to be going real well.”

It’s obvious several of the girls are starting to catch on. Reese
described an incident a where members of the team got into an argument and one of squad’s team captains pulled them to the side and resolved it.

Reese says she plans on doing it for the whole school year and hopefully it will catch on with other athletic programs.

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