MARSHALL, Texas - East Texas Baptist University’s Tiger Pom and Tiger Cheer teams traveled to Whitehouse ISD’s Cain Elementary School on Oct. 28 to take part in a school-wide celebration of the “No Excuses Program.”
As part of this program, each classroom "adopts,” represents, and learns about a college all year. Terri Cassels’ Kindergarten class selected ETBU this year.
“We are instilling in our students, from pre-k to 5th grade, the importance of going to college,” Cassels said. “We want them to understand and believe that college can be a part of their future.”
Cassels, a 1996 ETBU alumna, and her class wear the ETBU school colors of blue and gold every Monday. Cassels’ students have learned an ETBU cheer. The classroom is decorated with Tiger school spirit, and they have a “Tiger Hut” that is used as a reading reward area. And on special occasions, actual students from the universities come to inspire their supporters. Friday, the Spirit Teams from ETBU visited Cain Elementary.
“I loved seeing the kids’ excited faces when we walked into their classroom. It really opened my eyes that we have a huge impact on the little ones; they genuinely look up to us,” ETBU Cheerleader Jaci Tells said. “They made us feel like celebrities. Making their day, made my day."
The ETBU Spirit Teams led cheers and encouraged Cassels’ students in their classroom, then they accompanied the elementary students to a celebration in the school’s cafeteria with an array of other universities represented. Tiger Pom performed, while ETBU’s Toby the Tiger and Tiger Cheer led the crowd in cheers.
“It was an honor to represent ETBU and be a positive influence on the children at Cain elementary,” ETBU Cheerleader Natile Orr said. “It's important to teach kids at a young age that college is an attainable goal.”
ETBU Cheer Coach Farrah Dunaway recalls a moment where a little girl stopped walking in line to get a glimpse and wave at the teams in uniform. “She had the biggest smile on her face and her hands clasped to her chest. That sweet moment reminded the cheer and pom teams of the power to make a difference in the lives of the next generation.”
Cassels’ expressed gratitude throughout the day for giving her students “real-life” connections to the students at ETBU.
“It made me proud to be an alumna,” she said. “We appreciate their willingness to make an effort to join us. We loved every minute!”