Citywide Pep Rally draws big crowd
Published 12:10 am Sunday, August 10, 2014
Wanda Bell and Ray Nettles were there to watch their daughters perform. Walter Smith and his children came out just to enjoy the festivities.
They were among the more than 1,000 people who ignored the Saturday morning heat to listen to music from the Warren Central and Vicksburg High School bands, watch flying cheerleaders and kickoff the 2014-15 school year with the 16th annual Citywide School Pep Rally at the Outlets at Vicksburg.
“This is my first year for this. I’m excited for her,” said Nettles, whose daughter, Jade Douglas, a junior at Vicksburg High School, is a member of the school’s dance team. Nettles and her daughter moved to Vicksburg from Grand Rapids, Mich., two years ago.
“This is a great thing for the community to do,” she said. “It gives the kids something to do, and it’s a good opportunity for them to get together.”
The rally was the fourth for Bell, whose daughter Jade is a ninth-grader at VHS and a member of the dance team. Her son, Jared, is a senior and a member of the football team.
“I think it’s good to get the kids together, because they probably won’t get to see each other again individually until school ends,” she said.
Smith said he and his family have been attending the pep rallies for the past 7 years.
“We just like to see all the schools,” he said.
“I like coming a lot,” said his daughter, Marquasia, 10, a student at Vicksburg Intermediate. “I like listening to the bands.”
Lynn Breed, whose daughter and son, Annabeth, a 10-grader, and Jacob, a senior, attend St. Aloysius, was at the rally to watch her daughter, a member of the school’s dance team.
“This is a good program,” she said. “It’s a great way to start the new school year and bring the kids together. My daughter went to Bowmar (elementary), so she knows a lot of the kids.”
Parents and children were treated to fight songs from both high school bands and dance routines from cheerleaders, dance squads and color guards. The cheerleaders for the high schools and middle schools featured routines with girls flipping and rolling in the air and cartwheeling and flipping across the special mat laid on the mall parking lot. Dance squads performed acrobatic routines to rock and hip-hop.
Cold bottles of water and hand fans, both distributed by AmeriCorps volunteers, were quickly snapped up by adults and children as the 83-degree temperature and 82 percent humidity combined to make the morning hot and sticky. According to information from the National Weather Service’s Jackson office website, the heat index at the start of the rally was 92 degrees and rose to 102 by the time it ended.
“This is awesome. It’s another testament to where we need to be,” said Chad Shealy, Vicksburg Warren School District superintendent. “Everybody loves the kids, (and) supports the children. Unity is the key to success, and the support is community-wide. As a new Vicksburger, I’ve never seen another community with anything like this. This is incredible.”
Although he has been school district superintendent for two years, the rally was Shealy’s first. He took office just after the 2013 rally. When he was told about the pep rally, he said, “I thought it was a great opportunity for us all to get together and get the kids excited about the start of school year, and get out and support the community. That’s important, too.”