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Oak Park cheers its way to Florida

High school cheer squad to compete in U.S.

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Give me an F-L-O-R-I-D-A. What’s that spell? Florida.

And that’s where the cheerleaders of Oak Park High School (820 Charleswood Rd.) will be from Feb. 5 to 10 next year.

The Charleswood high school has been invited to compete in the World School Cheerleading Championships at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. in February. The cheer squad consists of 26 cheerleaders from Grades 9 to 12.

They are currently fundraising to cover the costs of the trip, which is around $45,000 — $2,000 each — for all 26 members of the team to attend.

According to Ainsley McIntyre, a teacher at Oak Park High School who supervises the cheerleaders, 20 members are definitely going to Florida.

"There are a number of cheerleaders not able to come because they can’t afford the financial commitment over such a quick period of time," McIntyre said, adding they only found out they were going to Florida about a week ago.

The Oak Park cheerleaders have until Jan. 6 to have everything paid, whether for the entire team or not, though they are obviously hoping for the former.

To ensure as many people as possible can go on the trip, the cheerleaders and McIntyre have put together a sponsorship package and are planning many fundraisers, including a social at the Westdale Community Centre (550 Dale Blvd.) on Jan. 4.

More information about the social can be found at www.facebook.com/oakparkcheer

Cheerleaders Alison Zajac, Alanda Van Vliet, and Cassidy Fitzhenry say they are excited to be headed south in February.

Zajac, 16, has been a cheerleader for four years, spending two of those years at Oak Park High School. Prior to that, she cheered at Westdale School.

Zajac explained that there are four different positions in cheerleading: flyer, base, third, and front. A flyer does stunts in the air, and the two bases hold the feet. A third is located in the back, holding the ankles while a front also helps to lift. Zajac is a third.

"I like the challenge of it, learning something new and putting your all into hitting it and perfecting it," Zajac said.

Van Vliet has been a flyer for two years, but she has been a base for the previous three years.

"It was scary in the beginning, but you get used to it. You learn to trust your bases and thirds to catch you," Van Vliet, 16, said.

Fitzhenry is both a base and a third, and she has wanted to be a cheerleader since she first watched the cheerleading movie Bring It On.


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