E-Gals boost Whittier spirit

       The E-Gals are bringing cheer to Whittier Elementary. The E-Gals spell “C-S-A-P.” From left: (back row) Lauren Dehart, Karissa Russell, Cara Milton, Zeriah Trujillo, Jamie 
Ratzlaff; (front row) Rowan Freeway, Chelsea Bowes, Kristina Gibson, Illaya Monroe, Athena Givens. Not pictured: Stephanie Martinez, Madison Taylor. 
Westside Pioneer photo
       The 12 young ladies in grades 3-5 have been meeting voluntarily all year, making themselves into a school-spirited group that's rare in elementary and even middle schools - a cheerleading squad.
       Taking their name from the school nickname (Eagles), the group members perform at Whittier's Friday assemblies and sometimes school sports contests. And to keep the recent CSAP testing from getting their classmates down, the E-Gals developed a cheer for that activity as well.
       Behind the squad's formation was Erin Yeaden, a teacher's assistant in her first year at Whittier. Asked last fall by staff if she had an idea for an after-school club, she decided to try passing along what she had learned as a member of the pom team for four years at the University of Northern Colorado.
       The timing couldn't have been better. According to fifth-grader Kristina Gibson, whose mother was once a cheerleader, “a lot of girls wanted a cheerleading team. Mrs. Yeaden helped bring it together for us.”
       Yeaden said her teaching involves “taking a little from everything I've had and passing it on. I tell them what to expect, because I've been through it too.”
       Gibson is proud of her efforts and those of the other E-Gals. “We work on our cheers and our splits every day,” she said.
       Yeaden writes the cheers, and she and the students choreograph the movements. The E-Gals have four or five cheers they can perform at this point, she said.
       For the CSAP cheer, done to the well-known “YMCA” tune, the squad taught their fellow students how to join in with the arm movements for the letters, “C-S-A- P.” “It was pretty effective,” Yeaden said.
       The cheer goes like this: “It's time to take the CSAP/ Start scoring high on the CSAP/ Yeah we've got to test, so let out a roar/ Whittier eagles, it's time to soar!”
       The group got a recent boost with the arrival of uniforms. Gibson had suggested the idea, but there was no school money for such an expense. So her grandmother, Diane Fisher, a special education para-professional at Whittier, decided to see what she could do. Fortunately, the school has an ongoing supporter in the People of Praise, an ecumenical group that has “adopted” the school, according to Cathy Houin, Whittier's fourth-grade teacher who is also involved with the group. Fisher talked to Houin, who talked to People of Praise, and this brought in sufficient donations to buy the cloth.
       “Whittier is a needy school with great kids,” Houin said. “It was so important for those girls to have uniforms.”
       Fisher, for whom sewing is a hobby, proceeded to make the uniforms, individually sizing them for each girl.
       “They were proud when they performed before, but they're really proud now,” Yeaden said.

Westside Pioneer article