Cheerleaders participate in Hawaii event

Published 2:34 pm Saturday, December 23, 2023

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Six members of the West Stanly High School cheerleading squad participated in the 82nd Annual Pearl Harbor Day Memorial Parade held in Honolulu on Dec. 7.

Cheerleaders Ariah Austin, Ali Broadway, Kaelynn Guyette, Lexi Rushing, Sarah Shue, and Audrey Torelli made the trip, having earned “All American” cheer status at the UCA (Universal Cheerleaders Association) camp during the summer.

“Cheerleaders from all over the United States who earned All-American level participated,” said Erika Burr, Austin’s mother, who assisted in coordinating the trip.

“Eleven cheerleaders from West Stanly made All-American and six of them were able to go to Hawaii. The girls had to try out and were selected by the camp instructors,” she said.

Austin recounted snorkeling (her first time doing so) as particularly memorable, and said she is “thankful to have had this wonderful opportunity.”

“(Seeing) Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona was a great experience,” she said. “We were able to learn about our history as well as recognize and honor all that were involved.”

Rushing also felt the connection to the nation’s past that the event memorialized.

“My favorite experience was being able to see Pearl Harbor, and learning about the history behind it,” she said, adding, “I also enjoyed going to a luau and experiencing Hawaiian culture.”

Shue described the experience as “a dream come true.”

“Hawaii is such a beautiful place, and being able to enjoy and tour the island was very special to me,” she said. “Overall, it was great fun, and we had many different places to explore.”

Practice with such a large band of cheerleaders was also a unique experience, according to Shue.

“Practice was different than any regular practice, but it was fun and very successful,” said Shue. “There were so many cheerleaders from all over the U.S. that we got to meet and get close with.”

“It was an absolute honor and privilege to cheer in the parade,” added Torelli, stating that “the experience and friendships are something I will remember for a lifetime.”

Like Torelli, Guyette also counted the parade as the high point of the experience.

“My best memory was the parade,” she said. “It was incredible to see the community come together and watch it, to meet so many people from different places and to make new friends.”

In addition to Burr, Kelly Reed (Austin’s grandmother) and Michelle Shue (Sarah Shue’s mother) accompanied the squad on the trip, and both expressed their appreciation of the girls’ achievements, and to their coaches for making the trip possible.

“I am beyond proud of these girls and their accomplishment of making All-American Cheer,” Reed said, with Shue adding: “Thank you to our WSHS coaches for giving our girls the opportunity to try out and have the opportunity to experience this.”

Toby Thorpe is a freelance writer for The Stanly News & Press.