Sparkle provides school spirit to all


Jamie Dyer

Let's go lions! The varsity cheerleaders help the other Sparkle kids during the Friday night football game. The girls cheered until halftime then went back to varsity.

By Destiny Montgomery, Altoona Area High School

The Sparkle Effect Cheerleading/Pep club continues cheering on sports teams and other events to show their full school spirit.

Sparkle is an inclusive, student-led cheerleading/pep club led by cheer coach Jamie Dyer, and captain, senior Brook Del Biondo.

“Sparkle cheerleading club is about boys and girls with and without disabilities coming together and cheering on our high school sports teams,” Del Biondo said.

There are 14 members of Sparkle as of now, and they just got their first male member, Aaron Bucher.

All of the Sparkle members are filled with joy when wearing their uniforms.

“Oh my gosh. They are the most fantastic kids. The pure joy is just out of this world. There’s no better feeling than watching them perform sometimes,” Dyer said.

The cheerleaders are kind to the other students who have a hard time and always make them feel welcome.

“I think it makes the students with disabilities feel great because we are one more person who they can count, on and when you get to say hi to them in the hallway they always get the biggest smile on their face,” senior Kayli Barefoot said.

According to Dyer, it is rewarding for her girls because when they see the joy on the student’s faces when they are cheering they know their teaching methods have paid off.

“It’s a great club to get involved in and it’s not only a reward to the students with disabilities but also everyone else involved,” Barefoot said.

Dyer wants to mainly attend the sporting events that don’t get a lot of attraction.

“We want to reach as many sports as we can that don’t have a lot of people that come to the event. Girls’soccer, a swim meet and softball games were favorite events to attend last year,” Dyer said.

Other organizations are also recognizing Sparkle.

“The Altoona Mirror put an article about cheer and put information about Sparkle, and I thought that was really cool,” Dyer said.

In an interview for Homecoming, Barefoot said that she wants Sparkle to get more recognition from the school because not many people know about it. She was Sparkle’s Homecoming candidate this year.

Dyer is trying to recruit more people because everyone enjoys watching them.

“Not only do the boys and girls love it, but the parents for the other sports teams love seeing us come out because those sports don’t get a lot of recognition,” Del Biondo said.

Dyer says that Sparkle is promoting inclusion and school spirit, and it helps the kids feel more a part of the community.

Dyer loves seeing her girls perform.

“When I see the sparkle kids, it is the brightest smile of my day. They are wonderful and that goes for all of them,” Dyer said.

This story was originally published on Mountain Echo on October 15, 2019.