A unique Garland ISD cheerleading program is undergoing some exciting changes. The district piloted its auxiliary cheer program last year, which gives special education students a chance to make the squad as an auxiliary position. They not only receive physical accommodations during auditions, but also the opportunity to earn a spot by meeting the minimum score. And, making the team means that they get the same privileges and responsibilities as every other member. This year, the auxiliary cheer program has expanded to all middle and high schools, growing from one auxiliary cheerleader during the pilot to three across GISD.
During 2017-18, the program was pioneered by Madison Thompson, better known as Maddie. After cheering for 10 years with a private team, she decided to try out for Coyle Middle School’s eighth-grade squad, initiating GISD’s first auxiliary position. Her success on the team not only fulfilled her own dream, but she also laid the foundation for others to follow in her footsteps.
"She's paved the way for this to happen at other campuses,” said GISD Fine Arts Coordinator David Sanders. “This was just a pilot program at Coyle last year. It went great, so we expanded it to all of our middle school and high school campuses for this current cheerleading season."
Sanders is responsible for the creation and implementation of the district’s auxiliary cheer program. Since its inception, it has gained attention from local news outlets. He has also been approached by other school districts, fine arts staff, superintendents and parents to learn how they can imitate the program. GISD currently boasts three auxiliary positions, one at the high school level and two at middle school.