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Monday, March 16, 2020

Highlands Middle School Cheerleaders Honored as Global Leaders

Highlands Middle School cheerleaders were honored for an act of kindness for their coach. Coaches Cyndi Studer (l) and Sue Shewalter (r) thanked the students formally at a recent school board meeting.

By Robin Gee

Four Highlands Middle School students, all sixth graders on the cheerleading team, took special honors recently for an act of kindness that required empathy, leadership and creativity.

The students — Bella Burwick, Sophia Gindelee, Emma Boyer and Chloe Crisler —  were thanked and honored for their efforts with a Global Leader Award at the February Fort Thomas schools district board meeting. The traits the students displayed are foundational areas in the district’s Portrait of a Graduate leadership program, said Superintendent Dr. Karen Cheser.

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When the students discovered that their coach, Sue Shewalter, would not be able to attend a national cheer competition to see her own daughter perform, they decided to take action and raised $800 in less than a week to enable their coach to go to the event to be with her daughter.

Cyndi Studer, seventh and eighth grade cheerleading coach, explained, "As someone who has had a daughter who competed on the national stage, it’s incredible to see your child on that level...As middle school coaches, we don’t get to go with the varsity team. We were talking about it, and these girls realized Ms. Sue’s daughter was going to be on national stage and she was not going to be able to travel with them," she said.

"One of them went to her mom and said 'Mom I can’t imagine me being down there without you' and then, these four girls ran with it and in four or five days were able to raise the money to send Ms. Sue to nationals so she could watch her daughter."

Shewalter’s voice was filled with emotion as she spoke about her relationship with the students and how much their action meant to her. "These young ladies are my sixth grade cheerleaders. We spend a lot of time with them. One is on competition team, the other three have been on Game Day  teams...These lovely ladies pretty much make my job easy. They really do. They do everything I ask them to do. It’s been one of the best classes I’ve had, and I’ve been coaching for 11 years now."

She spoke of how much the experience has meant to her. "Not only is this very humbling to me... I have coached most of these girls since they were in first grade, second grade, and I'm overwhelmed with the joy they have brought me," she said.

"My daughter was very happy that I was there. I had 10 minutes holding hands with a 15-year-old and you know, guys, that doesn’t happen..." Being able to see her daughter on stage and through preliminaries and semifinals, was a memory she will never forget, the coach said.

Dr. Cheser told the students,"With only four days to raise $800 you had to think outside the box – no time for bake sales and lemonade stands. I don’t know exactly how you did it, but you were able to work with your teammates and their families to do this, so thank you so much. You are the epitome of a Portrait of a Graduate."

Studer said the students will be ones to watch in the coming years. She told them, "I have no doubt the four of them will do awesome things."

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