Rockin’ Raiders Cheer Team Still Rockin’


by Jardin Jacoby

The Rockin’ Raiders Cheer Team with the school mascot at the Franklin football game.

Jardin Jacoby, News Editor

At HHS, the message of inclusion is spread throughout the school. The Rockin’ Raiders Cheer Team is an excellent example of this spirit. Run by Robin Pidany, a special education teacher at Hillsborough Elementary School, the team accepts everyone regardless of skill level. Continuing onto its fourth year, the club performs during football games (JV and Varsity) and during soccer games (girls/boys JV and Varsity) during the fall. The team also performs a choreographed dance during basketball games in the winter. 

The team puts a lot of time and effort into their performances, practicing every Tuesday and Thursday. The club was started by an organization called the Sparkle Effect, a group that strives to bring together students with and without disabilities. Started in 2008, the Sparkle Effect has grown from a local high school program, in Bettendorf, Iowa, to the nationwide program spreading love and support through school spirit. The organization’s moto, “Inclusive, Intensive, Immersive,” spreads their message by creating a fun club that includes everyone.

This club benefits more than just students with disabilities as it is a great experience for anyone else who enjoys having fun and getting to interact with new people. Senior Maddie Hansen has been on the team for two years. When asked what she has learned from this experience she commented, “I’ve learned that being a part of students with disabilities is such an enriching experience. Some of the cheerleaders see me in the hall and smile so wide, it’s as if I changed the world. Simply cheering with them means the world to them and the impact I’m having by continuing this cheer team is a blessing.”

This club leaves a lasting impact on the students who take part in it, even once they have left high school. Last year’s captain, Sarah Friedman is now studying nursing at York College in Pennsylvania, but she is continuing working with students with disabilities on her campus. 

This is not the only club that promotes inclusion as one of its main messages. Others inlcude the Gay-Straight Alliance club as well as the Unified track team, which occurs during the summer and is run by the Special Olympics. By creating a sense of unity, students who join these programs directly impact the lives of others, and help spread joy around the community. If any student wishes to join the Rockin’ Raiders Cheer Team they are always looking for new members. Feel free to reach out to Maddie Hansen ([email protected]) or Coach Pidany ([email protected]) with any questions.