This year, the Friendswood Junior High eighth-grade cheerleaders will be hearing from strong females in the Friendswood community in order to encourage them to be leaders on their campus.
“It’s my hope over time our girls will be more confident, positive leaders,” Stephanie Meyers, FJH cheer sponsor, said.
Meyers said her idea to bring in strong, female role models came after she noticed the need for positivity last year during her first year as a cheer sponsor.
“I watched some of our girls struggle with kindness towards each other at times, and I wanted this to be about cheering leadership in our schools and among each other,” Meyers said. “I want to foster leadership with acceptance. It’s okay to be really great at what you do and to build up others at the same time. It builds up all of us.”
The first speaker to come talk to the girls was Angela Kitchel, a former FHS cheerleader and later and parent of an FHS cheerleader. She talked to the girls about some of the ways they could be leaders in their classrooms and in their community. She told them, “You don’t have to be friends with everyone but you do need to be friendly with everyone.”
Kitchel was the first of a long list of speakers who will come talk to the girls throughout the course of the school year, tackling topics such as girls supporting girls, having the courage to live the life you want and forgiveness. Meyers said she hopes hearing these messages from strong women will empower the girls to be their best selves.
“It is my belief that our speakers will be able to touch our girls in a positive way,” Meyers said. “I hope the girls will adjust their mindset to being a positive leader, stand up for what is right, do the right thing, become more resilient, build up each other and help in our community.”
She said she understands making those changes will not happen overnight, but hopes to “plant a seed” within each girl.
“Over the next few years, I hope there is a change,” Meyers said. “I want [the girls] to learn how to become confident, strong, caring, and kind; to be able to face adversity and disappointment with grace; to learn that even in failure, there is learning and some things are bigger than just one person in a cheer uniform; to work on understanding that each individual within the team is one of everyone; acceptance without blame; grace; and grit.”
Meyers ended by saying she believes this will be a growing experience for her as well.
“This is a journey,” she said. “I’m sure I will learn as much as the girls through each speaker.”