Let’s hear it for the Hamilton Spirit Squad!  

Posted by Alicia Smith on 11/18/2022 11:50:00 AM

Creativity is prominent in the art room at Alexander Hamilton High School where painting, sculpting, and drawing are the norm in Room 221. However, another creative activity has also become a draw for students – this time in the form of dance with the newly revised Spirit Squad. Girls cheering


One afternoon, the team gathered for practice in the art room. They began with a brief meeting about the upcoming bake sale. Then it was time to get to work with a quick warm-up, followed by practicing their routines. 

The Spirit Squad was revitalized last year after more than two decades. Last year, then-seniors Amy Diakhate and Andreya Lane worked to bring the squad back after its last cheer in the early 2000s. This year, co-captains junior Sika Nutifafa and sophomore Jailynn Hort have taken the lead roles.  


Together, they develop routines and lead practices. The group’s advisor, Hamilton art and history teacher Natalie Bolden, is there to keep the girls organized and is the team’s official videographer. Ms. Boden gives input on what the girls do, but mostly provides the squad space to convene for practice along with the freedom for them to develop their unique cheers.


“They lead the crowd in cheers, raise the spirits of those there in attendance,” Ms. Bolden said. “Last year, the people started to expect it. It’s exciting.”


“I was a little nervous to be the club’s advisor because I am not a dancer,” Ms. Bolden said. But she had no reason to worry as the squad does all the work.

“Honestly, my favorite part is to see how the girls’ become leaders on their own,” she said.  


While the Spirit Squad has made a handful of public appearances this year - including at this fall’s football games and a performance at the November Board of Education meeting - it is gearing up for a traditionally busy season for cheer: basketball season. The first home game is scheduled for Dec. 7. 


Sika and Jailynn were both on the squad last year. “We wanted to bring back a dance program,” Jailynn said. “Hamilton hasn’t had a dance team since the early 2000s. It’s for girls who want to dance or cheer.” 


Sika said that being a co-captain has helped her develop her leadership skills. “I feel like we’re a team,” she said. “We respect and support each other.” 


Together they research cheers online and craft routines, or develop ones based on what they think will work with the crowd. 


Many squad members have been or are currently involved in cheer or dance teams outside of school. Nevertheless, that experience is not a pre-requisite, assured Jailynn, who encouraged other girls to join the squad.  


“Just believe in yourself,” she continued. “Your talent will be put to use. We will be patient with you and help you get out of your comfort zone.” 


Sophomore Daniia Dash said that she was slightly apprehensive about the upcoming basketball season, when the squad will perform in front of larger crowds. Despite that trepidation, she decided to join the squad this year. 

“I don’t find any of the routines challenging,” she said. “I’m a quick learner.” 


Junior Jada Estrada has experience in competitive cheer and dance and joined the Spirit Squad because she thought she could share that knowledge with others in the club. 

“I feel like we can use old cheers and focus on how we can make it better,” she said. 


Girls cheeringEighth grader Denim Silvera admitted that she was never a “sports person”, but she likes to dance and used to be involved in competitive cheer outside of school. She described the Spirit Squad as a group of young women who are “loving, funny, caring, smart, beautiful and very accepting.” 


“At the end of the day, we just have fun,” she said. 


“We all give each other energy,” freshman Chelsea Ortega said of how members of the squad support one another.


“We’re good together,” agreed freshman Valeria Maldonado.


During a recent practice, the squad reviewed a cheer it had been performing at events and then practiced a new one that was recently added to their repertoire. The cheers consist of rhythmic clapping, vocal support and feet stomping to give emphasis to their encouragement. 


Like several other squad members, sophomore Renee Murphy is a dancer. She takes lessons in jazz, ballet, modern, African dance, and hip hop. 


“It’s fun because we get to develop a vibe at events, and people know we are out there,” she said of performing. “I’m very excited for the first game.” 

Cheer with the AHHS Spirit Squad on Dec. 7 when the boys’ varsity basketball team takes on Sleepy Hollow at 6:15 p.m. at AHHS. 

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