Students from four National Heritage Academies (NHA) schools recently came together for a day of friendly rivalry as Oakside Scholars hosted NHA’s annual cheerleading competition, the Central Michigan Regional Cheer Competition. This year’s competition included cheerleaders from Oakside Scholars Charter Academy, Laurus Academy, Reach Charter Academy, and Detroit Premier Academy.
The annual tournament falls at the end of the season for the athletes. The competition consisted of each cheer team performing a routine including a cheer for the spirit portion, a dance, and a pyramid for the stunt portion. The cheerleaders are from each school’s middle school, made up of anywhere from 12 to 24 students per team.
“The competition gives students an opportunity to experience the competitive side of cheer as well as a showcase for all their hard work throughout the season,” said Kristy Redman, physical education teacher at Oakside Scholars.
The cheer competition is not the only competition that NHA students can participate in. Teams from various varsity and junior varsity sports are allowed to compete in a tournament at the end of each season.
“Sports definitely help our scholars stay on task and help them prioritize their school work,” said Silva Nazoyan, kindergarten through second-grade dean at Laurus Academy. “They know they are student-athletes, which means student comes first.”
The benefits of participating in competitive athletics extend far beyond the sport, shared Rico Reaser, athletic director at Detroit Premier. “For most of the girls, competing in team sports helps them to grow into leaders. The girls took ownership of the cheer program and looked forward to being successful. Their academics and behavior improved greatly due to them being held accountable for their actions.”
The competition began two years ago as a fun and competitive way for scholars to showcase all the hard work they put into their routines throughout the season. Additionally, it allows students to see that competitive cheer is a sport they can pursue outside of simply cheering for their schools.
“NHA athletics gives our coaches and educators an amazing opportunity to teach NHA's Moral Focus virtues through real-life experiences that our student-athletes go through while participating in sports, which ultimately leads to their success off the court and in the classroom,” said Steve Sikorski, athletic director and physical education teacher at Prevail Academy.
Matthew Wagner, fourth-grade teacher at Reach, shared that participating in competitive sports is beneficial to students for several reasons. “It teaches responsibility and time management. There are high eligibility standards and the athletes need to work hard in school so they can participate after school. It also teaches them sportsmanship. This is an important lesson on and off the court.”
It was a fun and rigorous day, filled with cheers and smiles. Ultimately, at the end of the competition, team Laurus walked away with 1st place. Congratulations, Laurus and to all who participated!