Special ed cheerleading squad thrills Livermore HS and community

A cheerleading team made up of special education students has captured the hearts of Livermore High School and their community.
March 7, 2014 7:41:18 PM PST
An unusual cheerleading team has captured the hearts of Livermore High School students and their community. The team is called the Shooting Stars, 14 special education students who have become celebrities on campus.

They performed recently at the biggest basketball game of the year, when Livermore High took on its cross town rival Granada High School. Both teams have accomplished cheering and dancing squads, but the loudest yells of the night went to the Shooting Stars.

The team was started four years ago by Livermore High School cheerleader Erika Gruidl. Erika has graduated, but other student coaches have taken over and the Shooting Stars' popularity keeps growing.

The team practices three times a week at lunch time. Student coach Sarah Dreher said the goal is to "really make a bond between the general ed and the special ed students." She adds that they also "want every kid to have their own time to shine and to feel they got to do what they wanted to do."

Student coach Gabby Quintana is a junior at Livermore High. She saw the team perform her freshmen year. "It literally brought tears to my eyes," she said. "I decided that I wanted to eventually work with them."

The Shooting Stars started performing at school rallies and games, and now team members are being included in many other activities too.

Shooting Star Kendra Monica was named Homecoming Queen. She and the other seniors on the team were recently honored along with other senior athletes in a special ceremony with their families.

The buildup to the big performance at the Livermore-Granada basketball game was intense. But Shooting Star Jose Gonzalez said it was worth it. "I was nervous," he said. "My heart was pumping a lot, but I was so happy."

The Shooting Stars were the final routine in an elaborate half time show and did not disappoint. The crowd went wild as the team performed fancy choreography, cartwheels, pushups, and a fabulous final stunt.

When it was all over, special education aide Tracy Dreher told the team they really made everybody happy. Shooting Star Zachary Jones said he "could see the audience really liked it. I heard them cheering a lot." Jose Gonzalez said he even saw people crying and added, "I was really proud."

Special education aide Julie Wright teared up as she told us "All the school is behind them and they've never had that before and they just love it."

We learned about the fantastic Shooting Stars in an e-mail to ABC7's uReport. If you have a story to share with us, send it to uReport@kgo-tv.com.

written and produced by Jennifer Olney


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