BY KAYLA GATES
The Cooper City High School Cheerleading program is easily recognized as the face of school spirit. Recently, the team has exemplified what it means to be a Cowboy, welcoming a cheerleader from the Exceptional Student Education (ESE) program. Junior Amanda Hoy is having fun and making history as the first ESE varsity cheerleader at CCHS.
Hoy has suffered from epilepsy her entire childhood. Last year was a huge milestone for Hoy, as she was finally weaned off of antiseizure medication after 15 years of taking it. However, the threat of seizures still surrounds her daily life, creating new obstacles in every aspect.
Hoy has always had a passion for cheerleading. Last year, she participated in SuperFest, an annual fully inclusive football and cheerleading clinic. The event aims to create a game day experience for youth of varying abilities, including those with developmental disabilities.
Hoy has been a student at CCHS for the past 3 years. She is a member of Best Buddies. Her sister, Erica Hoy, is a freshman at CCHS this year. She is also very involved, as a member of the Student Government Association (SGA).
In the past, Hoy has cheered alongside the CCHS cheer team. As part of Best Buddies, Hoy was able to cheer on the sidelines at home football games with her very own set of pom poms.
Returning from quarantine, Hoy longed to be a part of the CCHS cheer team. After speaking with cheer coaches Jillian Shaffer and Julie Ann Fernandez, Hoy was given the opportunity to officially cheer for CCHS. She joined the rest of the junior cheerleaders on the varsity team.
“My heart is full with how amazing the Cooper City Cheer Team has been with Amanda,” mother Lisa Hoy said via Twitter. “They have welcomed her with open arms and have included her in everything.”
The varsity cheer captains, seniors Marissa Moore, Noa Pagony and Amanda Boyle and the rest of the cheer team welcomed Hoy with open arms. Their welcoming celebration was the perfect example of Cowboy inclusion at CCHS.
“[Hoy] really loves cheerleading and doesn’t care who’s watching,” senior and varsity cheer captain Marissa Moore said. “She’s an amazing soul.”
In the past, CCHS has worked to provide accommodating opportunities for its ESE students to become involved. The ESE Department’s primary objective is always to provide its students with the best school experience possible.
Further, the Best Buddies at CCHS works to build inclusive and lifelong friendships between students and members of the ESE program. The club has hosted countless events for its buddies, including student socials, charity walks and holiday parties.
Hoy’s membership on the cheer team has taken CCHS’s inclusion efforts just one step further. Her cheerleading status shows that even a disability cannot stop her from reaching her goals.
As for the future, Hoy hopes to attend a college and pursue cheerleading during post-secondary education. For now, you can catch Hoy cheering on the sidelines of games at CCHS.