Briarcliff Cheer Team Visits Todd School and Prepares for Big Events

Seniors and co-captains Ella Dumas and Jake Jelenevsky with kindergarten teacher Jeanne Dal Piaz. Photo supplied

The Briarcliff High School Cheer team is having a moment.

For the first time in the school’s history, it will host a cheer competition, with more than one dozen schools competing on January 20.

A few weeks later, team members will pack their bags and head to the Nationals in Orlando, Florida.

Despite their jam-packed schedule, the team stopped by Todd Elementary School to visit kindergarten students.

The 13 members were divided into small groups and visited all four kindergarten classes.

The cheerleaders performed cheer routines and taught the students some moves. They talked about what it is like to be a high school cheerleader and read some favorite read-alouds to the students. Students asked them questions.

“When you are a cheerleader, you have fun and you exercise, and you cheer on the team, but you also make new friends,” said kindergarten teacher Michelle Kiger.

At Jeanne Dal Piaz’s class, senior Jake Jelenevsky, one of the team co-captains, was in for a special surprise: Ms. Dal Piaz showed everyone an old class picture, with five-year-old Jake posing in front of her.

The cheer team with Todd Principal Jessica Michaelidis and BHS Athletic Director Chris Drosopoulos. Photo supplied

Jake, who is the only male cheerleader on the team, had a somewhat late start when he joined the team during his junior year.

“I didn’t know a lot about cheerleading, but after I saw that the team went to Orlando, I looked stuff up and saw all of the crazy stunts and the athletic aspect of it, so I went to an open gym and have been hooked ever since,” he said.

Senior Ella Dumas, who is also co-captain, has been on the team all four years of high school and knew early on that she wanted to be a cheerleader.

“My mom was a cheerleader in high school so she kind of pushed me,” she said. “I have also done dance since I was five and dance and cheer go hand in hand. I went to an open gym when I was a freshman, and I have been into it ever since.”

Both Jake and Ella, along with co-captains Marquesa Leggio, Ava Diaz, Alex Shulman and the rest of the team, are excited for both the local competition and the nationals in Orlando.

“We are hosting the competition because it is a great opportunity to showcase what we have to offer and also a great way to raise money for new props, uniforms, etc,” Jake said.

On February 9 they will fly to Orlando for a five-day trip to compete in the Nationals.

“I definitely feel the pressure, especially when it comes to lifting up the girls and throwing them in the air, but it’s a good adrenaline rush,” Jake said. “I hope we make it to finals and advance to win.”

“Last year we were set on winning, and obviously that’s the goal for most people, but I am hoping on just progressing and doing better than before and making it to finals,” Ella said.

Both Jake and Ella credit the fact that everyone on the team has a close bond to one another as the reason for their success.

“I think it’s the people and the energy,” Jake said. “Cheerleading is all about selling that you are at a game and excited to be there, so since we are all good friends, we just have so much fun together and it shows.”

“Good luck to the team,” said Athletic Director Chris Drosopoulos. “Their passion, commitment and love for the sport does not go unnoticed.”

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