Rock Hill cheerleaders begin pen pal program with elementary students
The Blue Hawk Cheerleading squad at Rock Hill High School has launched a creative way to encourage younger students and raise funds for the team. The squad started a pen pal program, pairing high school cheerleaders with elementary students.
The program, called Pom Poms and Penpals, is $15 per student. The elementary students are matched with a high school student, who writes a monthly letter to the elementary student.
Additionally, each elementary student receives a T-shirt and an invitation to an end-of-year celebration with their buddy.
Kaylee Wood is one of the high school students on the cheerleading squad.
“Penpals is something our organization does to interact with future Hawks,” Wood said. “We send them letters every month or so and they will write back to us.”
“We write about our lives and things going on in cheerleading,” Wood said. “We also write about what life is like in high school and encourage them to work hard. Then at the end of the year we meet up with them and do activities.”
Facilitating the relationship between high school students and their elementary buddy is a critical part of this program.
“Growing up I was in camps for cheer and I was so scared to talk to any of the high school cheerleaders,” Wood said. “I just did not know them and they were so grown up and so talented at cheer already. Having this connection already will help them as they continue to learn cheer. That strong connection helps them feel more comfortable doing something they love.”
Senior Olivia Clark is a high school cheerleader and is paired with an elementary pen pal.
“The Rock Hill Cheer Team loves being involved with our community and connecting with future Blue Hawk Cheerleaders is the perfect way to do that,” Clark said. “All the girls love being a role model for the little girls to look up to. We hope to build a connection through our letters and events with them.”
Because of Covid restrictions last year, the end of the year celebrations are new for the squad. The teens are hoping that this connection continues into summer activities.
“We are not sure what the coaches have planned yet,” Sophia Heckel said. “I really want this friendship to continue into the summer camps.”