On a high
Cheer program keeps girls at school
A Karratha Senior High School engagement program has local girls reaching for the sky, thanks to its focus on a more unusual sport in the Pilbara — cheerleading.
New PE teacher Matilda Mealiff is a competitive cheerleader who has represented Australia, and this term she decided to try the sport with the school’s Goals for Girls program, designed to encourage about 100 female students from Years 7 to 10 to attend school through physical activity. Ten weeks later, the girls are now performing full routines complete with stunts and original dances.
“I’ve worked with cheerleading in schools in Perth previously and I’ve seen how it has an impact on your average kid,” Ms Mealiff said.
“I can’t believe how much it’s changed the girls, and how much they’ve become closer with one another and just got them excited and enthusiastic. It’s been good to see them come out of their shells.”
Ms Mealiff said there were a wealth of benefits to cheerleading including better body image, school pride, and even literacy from developing cheers.
“I said to the girls, by the end of cheerleading you’ll see each other as family,” she said.
“What I mean by that is it’s different (from other team sports), because (with those) you play together but you don’t hold each other, you don’t have to rely on each other. They’ve been elbowed in the head. Stuff like this happens.”
“The biggest thing with cheerleading is you have to co-operate, you have to trust, everybody has a role and it only works if everybody does their role.”
Head of PE Sarah Hopley said this was the first school cheerleading program in the Pilbara and there had been 100 per cent participation at sessions, thanks largely to Ms Mealiff ’s experience and enthusiasm.
Goals for Girls students Shianne Binsali, 14, and Ashleigh Becker, 14, said cheerleading had benefited girls in the program because it was a team effort that was also a lot of fun.
Karratha Senior High School Goals for Girls program students perform a routine from their new cheerleading classes.