In Rankin county a community is rallying around one of the newest junior high school cheerleaders. The special needs student just made the team at MCLaurin Junior High School and is already a fixture at the games and in the hearts of students, teachers and parents alike.
There are nine new cheerleaders on the McLaurin Jr. High roster and among them is Chappell Wallace.
The 14 year old has had two cheerleading sisters and about a week ago she won a spot on the junior high squad.
Chappell has Down Syndrome, lots and lots of enthusiasm and even more community support.
"I love being a cheerleader," said Wallace.
"It has just boosted her self esteem and her realizing that she as a wide range of friends and people that are willing to bring her in and allow her to be a part of something that is really special to her," said Chappell's mother Shannon Wallace.
The McLaurin Elementary School assistant teacher is the single mother of four children.
Monday's practice in the McLaurin High gym was the first for the 17 member squad who embraced the seventh grader and taught her the routines for the tryouts.
Chappell is called a shining star at McLaurin for her winning smile and school spirit.
"I had some sweet eighth grade girls that helped her learn the cheers, and I don't even know if the judges saw the other girls on the floor that day because Chappell put on such a show," said cheer coach D. J. Bridges, whose daughter she said begged her everyday last year to allow Chappell to join the team.
"Last year she was always wanting to be a cheerleader so I decided this year to help her. Some days at p.e. and stuff we'll have some extra time so me and Jordan we've helped her out and helped her learn the cheer," said seventh grade cheerleader Ellen Steinwinder.
"She's really sweet in what she does so when you teach it to her she understands it, and she's not like not wanting to do it. She really wants to cheer, and so we're real excited to have her with us this year," said 13 year old cheerleader Jordan Davenport.
In June, she and her mother will join the girls at cheer camp. In the meantime they have about 65 sideline chants, seven routines and one extreme routine of dance and stunting to learn for the upcoming football season.
"I just love it," said Chappell.
You can send donations to the McLaurin Jr. High Chappell Cheer Fund at 130 Tiger Drive, Florence MS 39073 or call 601-845-2247.
Tuesday, July 22 2014 6:08 AM EDT2014-07-22 10:08:09 GMT
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