Building school spirit and elevating the student experience is what we do every day at Varsity Spirit. As a cheer or dance program, you do the same in your schools and communities, and that role is so important because now, more than ever, the world needs spirit.

Believe in You® is an episodic series hosted by Kevin Atlas designed to educate students about the power of believing in yourself. They have created a FREE program rooted in social and emotional learning competencies to help students during these uncertain times.

The Varsity Fit Training Guide was created specifically for cheerleaders and dancers looking to increase their physical fitness, with skill fundamentals in mind. Coaches can follow this series of workouts to help athletes prepare before going back to practice.

Camp is a fundamental first step to a successful season. It’s a time for athletes to establish trust, comradery and commitment to one another. Foundations are built, goals are set, and memories are made – all alongside the Varsity Spirit Staff.

The role of a spirit leader goes far beyond leading the crowd on the sidelines or taking the floor as an athlete on competition day. It’s about being a positive light and leader in your community, no matter the circumstances. Although going back to school this fall is going to look different across America, the primary role of a cheerleader or dancer remains the same – support the success of others and create a welcoming, spirited atmosphere for all.

Here’s how your spirit program can get involved:

Back to School - Welcoming Ideas

Power up your school year by getting a spirited start with help from the cheerleaders and dancers!  

In-person:  

  • Decorate posters with inspirational messages on them and hang them throughout the hallways.  
  • Create a “spirit tunnel” with streamers, balloons and banners to welcome back the students, teachers and staff. If you can safely gather, cheer for everyone when they walk on to campus for the first time to pump up the entire student body! 
  • Collect artwork, written projects, student awards, accomplishments, etc. from other students and display it across campus to boost school pride.  
  • Have your band play the fight song or some band chants on the first day of school. They could set up where the buses / cars drop off students, in the hallways or in the cafeteria.   

Virtually:  

  • Write encouraging messages to teachers, staff and fellow students. 
  • Create an at-home sign decorating contest and share the winners on social media. 
  • Schedule times with teachers for your school Mascot to virtually pop into a Zoom classroom to welcome students back to class or, have the entire spirit program join the call to lead the class in a school chant.  
  • Back to school drive by: Host a [Tiger Pride] Drive By. Invite your classmates to drive by your school on a day/time and create a caravan of spirit! Have your dancers and cheerleaders hold signs, perform sidelines, and pump up the crowd while they drive by. Make sure your team abides by your school’s social guidelines to make this safe and spirited for everyone!  

Celebrate your School's History

  • In order to be an ambassador for your school, you need to know your school! Cheerleaders and dancers can write weekly history updates to include in the school announcements, create a history column for the school website or post on your school’s social media channels – posts could feature influential teachers, founders, the school’s namesake, and outstanding alumni. 
  • Share the “School Facts Quiz” you completed at a Varsity Spirit Summer Camp with your school to see who knows all about your history! Get creative and make it a contest with fun school-themed prizes.  
  • Social Media Game: Trivia Tuesdays! Post a trivia question about your school’s history and see how many of your classmates know the answer!

Collaborate with other Sports, Groups and Clubs

  • As cheerleaders and dancers, you can build strong relationships with other sports / groups outside of the teams you cheer for, so everyone feels a stronger connection to their place of learning. Create a BAND group for leaders of all sports, groups and clubs at your school so you can stay connected while apart and continue to support one another.  
  • Team of the Week: Have your cheer or dance team highlight another sports team at your school in some way. Post on your social accounts about that certain team, its members, its accomplishments, etc. Give them a shout out and let them know you are rooting for them! 

Establish a Mentoring Program

  • As some of the most visible students on campus, cheerleaders and dancers can help raise the bar for academics, school spirit and overall behavior inside and outside of the classroom. Start a school mentoring program where freshman students can pair up with a member of the spirit program to guide them through their first year in high school. “Buddies” can meet in-person or virtually.

Get Involved in your Community

At games, the primary role of a cheerleader or dancer is to rally the crowd and support the success of others. While most sporting events are taking an extended timeout, we must refocus our efforts to the people who need our support right now. Reach out to your local hospitals, fire stations and other essential businesses that are open to see how you can help these local heroes.  

  • Create an encouraging message cheering for a hometown hero – here’s how:  
    • Post a video or photo thanking and cheering on service workers 
    • Tag five friends and family and encourage them to share spirit 
    • Tag us (@VarsitySpirit) so we can share the message 
  • Organize a group of representatives from different teams/clubs to volunteer to share spirit with you in the community. Ex: Host a socially distanced parade outside of a local nursing home to give those who can’t have inside visitors some cheer.  
  • Team Up for St. Jude – Spirited by Varsity 
  • Host a “Traveling Community Pep Rally” – Spirit squads and the band/drum line can go to a parking lot or outdoor common area at a nursing home or hospital and do a short rally that can be viewed from afar or even from the windows. Then, the spirit program can pack up and move on to the next home / hospital and continue the trend all throughout your town!

Host an In-Person or Virtual Pep Rally

Pep rallies are one of the most impactful spirit raising activities cheerleaders and dancers can be involved in on campus. Kick off the fun by planning a Spirit Week with themed dress up days leading up to the big event. (Ex: Movie Monday, PJ Tuesday, Wacky Wednesday, Throwback Thursday, School Spirit Friday.) This can be executed in-person or virtually from home!  

  • If you are hosting an in-person pep rally, select a location that follows all social distancing guidelines. Consider going outside or in order to limit mass gatherings, rotate pep rally attendance by grade so everyone can be involved in a safe and responsible way.  
  • If you are hosting a virtual pep rally, you can host it on Zoom or through the BAND live stream app feature or other streaming program your school is using! Here’s a step by step on how to set one up: 
    • Select a date, time and streaming service for your pep rally.
    • Plan a timeline with your list of activities. Your activities should include a wide representation of the student body – so everyone feels included!
    • Select an MC – it could be a cheerleader/dancer, fun teacher, coach, student government member, etc.
    • Practice with the host, activity leaders and whoever is running the rally from a technical perspective.
    • Share the date, time and how to tune in on your school’s social media channels, in your school announcements, etc.
    • The day of the Pep Rally – be sure to log on early to make sure you don’t have any technical issues.
    • When the Pep Rally begins, be sure to have fun music playing as students are logging on to keep everyone engaged.
    • Keep the Virtual Rally to about 30 minutes – and have FUN!
  • Here is a sample Virtual Pep Rally Schedule:
    • 3:00PM – Students login as “band” music plays
    • 3:05PM – Welcome from MC and principal
    • 3:10PM – Class scavenger hunt – select one person from each class to participate in the challenge!
    • 3:15PM – Pre-recorded video of inspirational message from student leader (could be the spirit program, student body president, etc.)
    • 3:20PM – Performance time! Pre-recorded video of performances from teams / clubs that don’t usually get representation at pep rallies. Students could submit their videos for a chance to be featured.
    • 3:25PM – Coach or motivational teacher hops on to explain how important student support pride really is!
    • 3:30PM – “Band” plays fight song (could use a pre-recorded video or track) as students dismiss
  • Looking for more pep rally ideas? Order a Pep Rally in a Box – it has everything you need to take your rally to the next level!

Host a Virtual Talent Show

  • The cheerleading or dance team can host a virtual talent show for the entire school to watch! Students could share talents like singing, playing musical instruments, stand-up comedy, magic tricks, demos of sports like gymnastics or soccer, or even a short acting clip. Here’s how:
    • Ask performers to sign up to perform in advance.
    • Watch and review what each performer will do. Review how to set up the video and set some time limits (ideally about 2 minutes per performance).
    • Select an MC – it could be a cheerleader/dancer, fun teacher, coach, student government member, etc.
    • Practice with the talent, MC and whoever is “hosting” the show on Zoom or through the BAND app.
    • Share the date, time and how to watch the show on social media, in your school announcements, etc.
    • The day of the show – be sure to log on early to make sure you don’t have any technical issues and have FUN! 

Increase Engagement on Social Media

  • Cheerleaders and dancers can encourage other students to follow your school’s social media channels. Don’t have any? See if the spirit program can create a school Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to stay connected – even while we may be physically apart.   
  • Plan a Social Media Spirit Week and rally the entire school to get involved! Click here for a step by step on how cheerleaders and dancers can help plan it.
  • Even though you might not be entertaining the crowd from the sidelines right now, cheerleaders and dancers can still entertain friends and family on social media. Sharing a positive post during a time where social media feeds are filled with uncertainty will put a smile on your followers faces and act as a beacon of hope. 

Participate in Together As One

“Together as One” is an opportunity for cheerleaders, dancers and band members to perform together this fall! This fully arranged, designed and choreographed performance is available for FREE to any school and coach exploring halftime performances or community performances for 2020, and wanting the opportunity to involve other school or community groups into a larger production. Click here to learn more!

Start a Pep Club

For a step by step guide on how to start a Pep Club (both in-person or virtually) – click here!

Share your Spirit with Others

  • Sidelines to Sidewalks! Share your spirit on the school sidewalks by writing an encouraging message or drawing your school mascot on the sidewalk at your school. If this is against school guidelines or you aren’t back to class in-person quite yet – you could head to a friend’s house and draw a message on the sidewalk in front of their house. Then, encourage them to do the same for three other friends to brighten their day!  
  • Work with your school news or media team to have a weekly spirit announcement featuring a teacher, student organization, class, etc. If you are attending school virtually, you can send out a weekly email with a video update. 
  • Pin It Forward: Bring the Pin It Forward concept to your school by passing a pin, sticker or school emblem to fellow classmates to let them know you appreciate them! Have them pass it along to another person who is raising spirit and keep it going all year long! 

USA Cheer “Return to Cheer and STUNT” Guidelines

  • At Varsity Spirit, the health and safety of our athletes, coaches, employees, families and friends is our top priority. As various parts of the country open up and begin to resume public activities, it is important to follow the guidelines provided by your local and state government and health departments regarding activities that are permitted for your community in addition to any specific requirements from your direct association (college conference and divisions, school district and/or state high school athletics/activities associations, US All Star Federation, governing youth rec association, etc.).
  • To view the USA Cheer “Return to Cheer and STUNT” Guidelines – click here.
    • This document and any policies described therein were prepared by USA Cheer and are being provided by Varsity Spirit for informational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for using this information and understand and agree that Varsity Spirit is not responsible or liable for any errors or omissions or for any claim, loss or damage resulting from the use of this information. None of these materials are offered, nor should be construed or relied upon, as medical advice.

School Spirit: the Connection between Student Achievement, Involvement and Confidence. 

Although we may not know exactly when, schools will reopen their doors someday to students who will need to reconnect with their peers and reacclimate to traditional places of learning. How can we return better than before? Spirit. And it’s what we do every single day. We instill spirit in our camp curriculum, cultivate in our staff, and help it thrive in every athlete and coach. 

High-spirited students have a greater expectation that they will receive at least a 4-year degree (84% vs. 51%)

Students with high school spirit have higher GPA’s than students with low school spirit

88% of principals surveyed that students with school spirit are happier

91% of principals surveyed said students with school spirit are more confident

92% of principals surveyed agree that high school spirit is tied to high student achievement

 

The complete findings are available in the White Paper — School Spirit: the Connection
between Student Achievement, Involvement and Confidence.