Let’s Hear it for St. Mary’s!
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
St. Mary’s School in Baldwinsville Adds Cheerleading Program
BALDWINSVILLE — The initiation of a cheerleading program for third, fourth and fifth graders created a lot of excitement at St. Mary’s School in Baldwinsville in September. The parents are proud of the cheerleaders, and the crowds at the weekly basketball games have gotten larger. “There has been an increase in school spirit and pride at St. Mary’s,” said Principal Debra Brillante. This is the first time since 1986 that St. Mary’s School has had a cheerleading program in operation.
The program got its start when some students and parent Dawn DePaulis approached Brillante to ask if a cheerleading program could be considered. After noting that the school basketball team had increased to nineteen, Brillante decided to move forward with plans for a cheerleading squad. The students were very excited about the new program. The institution of the program had a profound effect on the students. The children in the lower grades were excited and are looking forward to participating next year. “I think it’s had a wonderful impact on the girls, their families, our basketball team and the whole school community,” said Brilliante.
Dawn Depaulis has coached the cheerleading group of 12 girls since September. A former Bishop Ludden cheerleader, she enjoys the girls’ excitement and teaching them new cheers. The girls learn a new cheer every week. Third grader Olivia Bigtree looks forward to her weekly practice session. “It’s really fun because you can learn moves that you could never learn before,” said Olivia. Participating in the program has influenced the cheerleaders in a number of positive ways. It has improved their listening skills, they’ve learned how to work together as a team, and they’ve learned responsibility. Many of the girls enjoy the camaraderie of the group. “It’s fun because I get to cheer with all my friends,” said third grader Kelsey Maguire. Captain Emma Jeffrey has the responsibility of starting the cheers with her teammates. “It’s really fun,” said Emma. “You have to be spirited.”
The girls’ uniforms are impressive. They consist of a dress that is royal blue and white with matching pompoms. Depaulis stresses the importance of afterschool activities. “I think it’s a good idea to offer more after school programs in Catholic schools,” said Depaulis. “It keeps the children interested in staying here.”
Basketball coach Scott Thayer coaches two teams. Team B includes 11 fifth and sixth grade boys. Team C consists of three fourth grade girls and five fourth grade boys. The basketball team has been in operation for two years. Thayer is pleased with the addition of the cheerleading program. “It has added a new dimension to the games,” said Thayer. “There’s been an increase in school spirit.” Sixth grader Jack Johnston enjoys playing on the basketball team. “I enjoy playing with all my friends and I like the sport,” said Jack. “They really support the team a lot.