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Griffins’ cheerleading program taking flight

The Academy at Palumbo cheerleaders took the field on opening night of high school football season on Aug. 25 as the Griffins took on South Philadelphia High School at the South Philly Supersite. Photos/Mark Zimmaro

Academy at Palumbo High School sporting events are going to be a little bit louder this year.

Thanks to a pair of juniors who took the reins, the Griffins cheerleading team has new choreography and has more than doubled in size from a year ago. The program started last school year with only about a dozen participants. Now, the squad is growing and excited about the possibilities.

“We wanted to get more incoming freshmen and more sophomores the opportunity to join the team since we weren’t able to last year,” said junior Samyah Feagins. 

Feagins and fellow junior Kelsea Richardson took it upon themselves to draw up new cheer routines over the summer. Feagins reached out to Richardson during school last year and they came up with a plan to jumpstart the squad.

“I just came up to our history class and asked if she wanted to help me,” said Feagins, who has cheered for 10 years and has some gymnastics experience.

The two girls went to work. And they began sharing their new creations with the rest of the team. They also raised their own money to cover all expenses.

“It was hard because we didn’t have a lot of time for everything,” Richardson said. “It was me and Semyah by ourselves until Miss Fisher came in. So it was hard. Especially because there are a lot of people now, and it’s just the two of us.”

Sheila Fisher is the new dance teacher at Palumbo and stepped in as the team’s sponsor.

“When I got here, I was told that the girls were amazing and that they were independently working on their own for the summer,” Fisher said. “They asked if I would come in and give them some guidance and some pointers. They are a wonderful group of girls and they really jell. They are very committed.”

The team is largely made up of sophomores and juniors with a handful of freshmen and just four seniors on the squad. 

“They are super excited to be out here,” Fisher said. “The rehearsals were intense. Some days we were out here and it was so hot but they got through it. They have just been so committed.”

Their first official game of the season was on Aug. 25 at the South Philly Supersite as Academy at Palumbo took on Southern in a battle of South Philly schools. The cheers were flowing but the Griffins ended up on the wrong side of the scoreboard in a 20-0 loss to the Rams on opening night.

Win or lose, it’s always showtime.
“We worked hard all summer,” Richardson said. “Now everybody gets to see it today.”


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