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Dallas High senior Krysta Catto (third from right) and junior Baylee Andersen (second from left), both members of the school's cheer squad, teach fellow Dallas students a cheer at a tailgating party before Friday night's football game against South Albany.
September 24, 2013
DALLAS -- Dexter, Dallas High School's dragon mascot, was looking pretty shabby at the beginning of this school year.
In use since 1997, Dexter was sorely in need of some TLC.
Much like Dexter, school spirit at Dallas High in recent years has needed a boost.
Dexter and DHS's display of school spirit have received a makeover this year courtesy of the school's leadership class -- those students elected to class and Associated Student Body (ASB) offices -- who began the year determined to restore both symbols of Dragon Pride to their former glory.
Dallas' leadership class has joined forces with the newly revitalized cheer squad to achieve one simple goal: make school fun for every one.
Friday, the class was in the midst of frenzied last-minute planning for upcoming pep assembly and tailgating events before the home football game that evening.
ASB President Tyler Curtis said the class wants to support and promote more than just sports teams, but all clubs students are be involved in, including FFA, the bowling team and DHS Thespians.
"We are trying to be more inclusive this year," Curtis said. "Even with the assembly we are doing now, last year it was more about fall sports. This year we are doing it with sports and all the clubs that are year-round. I want to get everyone excited."
If early events are any measure, it's working.
The first tailgating event before Dallas' home football game against Central on Sept. 6 brought in an unexpectedly large crowd of students, who all attended the game afterward.
"We weren't sure how tailgating would work out because we have never had tailgating," said Jessica Lowry, the leadership class adviser. "We had a huge turnout, 130, 140 kids came. The goal of tailgating is to pack the stands to support the team for the game. People were fighting for a seat."
Leadership's new direction isn't just about fun and games. Lowry said making school a welcoming place can have benefits in the classroom, too.
Dallas High assistant principal Brian Green (far right) grills hot dogs as students begin to dish up a tailgating meal Friday night at the leadership-sponsored event.
"When kids are excited about being at school, they are excited about learning," she said. "It's a lot easier to teach kids who want to be here."
Steve Spencer, Dallas High principal, said he wants to change what it means to be "a leader" at DHS by making it clear that responsibilities of officers go well beyond just being elected.
"I had one young man say `I thought this was just a title. I didn't know I would have to do anything,'" Spencer said. "We are trying to develop more leadership and set goals for the school."
Lowry has included lessons in leadership class on organization, teamwork and taking responsibility for commitments.
Dallas students and community members cheer on the football team as they make their way to the field Friday.
"We are trying to teach them that there is more to leadership than planning assemblies and dances," Lowry said. "Leadership isn't this click class. It's not just `Let's have a good time and get an easy A.' It's about proving you are a good leader. Leadership is hopefully a skill kids will use after high school."
Each class' representatives are now assigned to a school administrator who advises them. The advisers will remain with that class' officers as they move through school in hopes of establishing continuity.
"We want to begin training them," Spencer said. "Raising the bar for them."
True to their goal, leadership students and the cheer squad braved a rainy, blustering Friday afternoon to bring the school spirit out early with the second home football game tailgating party of the year before the contest with South Albany.
"We have already built so much more school spirit in the first few weeks of school than we've have in the past few years combined," said Britten Essex, senior class president. "All of our events have been successful so far and I'm excited for what is coming up."