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G'land HS cheerleaders given a fighting chance

Michele Coons, a representative of Guilderland's Pop Warner program, said that eliminating the high school cheerleading program would take away the role-models for aspiring cheerleaders in the Pop Warner program. "Many of your high school's football cheerleaders came through the ranks of Pop Warner and return to our fields to give back as junior coaches," said Coons, adding "the junior coaches are heroes in the eyes of our young girls."

Jeanne Walsh, mother of two Guilderland High School scholar athletes, and executive vice-president of the eastern division of the American Cancer Society, detailed the health aspect of keeping the sports program at the high school intact. "The American Cancer supports an increase in physical activities within schools," she said. Walsh said that research shows about 75,000 preventable deaths occur each year among children ages 6 to 17, largely due to obesity. "Children who live healthy live longer," she said.

Dustin McGuire, a varsity football player at the high school, detailed the sense of community the sports program brings to the high school, especially in times of tragedy. "When I think about Dutchman Athletics two words come to mind "community" and "atmosphere," said McGuire. McGuire specifically mentioned homecoming week in October of last school year when the community was faced with coping with the sudden death of a high school student, an event he said "left us all feeling lost and broken."

"On October 4th, 2009 we marched out on the field to play a game that meant more than statistic or rank," he said. "The Dutchmen football team did not play that game, the community did. Those 48 minutes were nothing more than the community coming together to heal."

Shortly after the public finished commenting on the issue, Board Member Barbara Fraterrigo put forth a motion to fund the parts of the sports program that were cut. "At the last meeting I wasn't thinking clearly on the effects this would have on 220 kids," she said. Her motion was seconded by Board Member Julie Cuneo.

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