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All you need is a little sparkle: Special needs cheer squad breaking barriers

Clemens High School is creating an all-inclusive campus with activities open to all students, including those with special needs.

SCHERTZ, Texas — A high school in Schertz-Cibilo ISD is breaking barriers.

The students and faculty at Samuel Clemens High School are working together to make an all-inclusive campus where all activities are open to both general education students and those with special needs.

The Unified Sports Program is a school-wide effort where kids of all abilities are doing activities together.

At the basketball game Tuesday night at Clemens High School, the Buffalo Sparklers showed the crowd what it really means to break through barriers—one cheer at a time.

The Buffalo Sparklers are a special needs cheer team, mentored by the Clemens High School cheerleaders.

“We go during our lunches, during the week to help the Sparklers and teach them new cheers,” said Clemens cheerleader Bailey Roberson.

“Their team spirit is probably the highest of anybody on campus. And for them to get to showcase it and share it with everyone else is truly amazing,” said Theresa Woods, Buffalo Sparkler sponsor and Alternate Learning Environment teacher.

Woods sponsors the team with art teacher Amanda Aguilar and Brittany Tolison. They said it gives the kids a chance to be part of a team and teaches all the kids valuable life lessons.

“It's tolerance, accepting people for who they are for their differences, for their strengths as well as their weaknesses, getting to know them as an individual person even though they have a disability or that they're different,” Woods said.

And for the Sparklers, it means more than showing school spirit.

“Working with my teammates was fun,” said Jalynn Sherrell, a senior member of the Sparklers. “I love them because they take care of me."

For Sparkler Cristal Fey, she said enjoys the excitement of the game.

“I actually like cheering very, very loud,” she said.

Even though the season will end soon, Woods said the friendships will last a lifetime.

“We built a relationship with them, and whenever we see them in the hall, they get so excited to see us and we get excited to see them,” said Clemens cheerleader Ally Goldhorn.

“They said they made new friendships, but we did, too,” Roberson said.