4/30/12 Cummings High senior organizes cheerleading camp

Cummings senior Apparchia Parker leads a cheerleading camp Thursday at the school for her graduation project.

Scott Muthersbaugh / Times-News   

Cummings senior Apparchia Parker leads a cheerleading camp Thursday at the school for her graduation project.

Cummings High senior organizes cheerleading camp
By Mike Wilder The Times-News 4/30/12     
Reprinted with permission.

   Graduation projects work best, Cummings High School teacher Tonya Cope says, when students pick a topic that means a lot to them.

   That’s what Apparchia Parker, a Cummings senior, did when she chose cheerleading for her project.

   Parker has cheered since she was 8. As a varsity cheerleader at Cummings, she organized a cheerleading camp she and others on the squad held at the school last week.

   As a younger student at Cummings, Parker noted seniors doing their projects on topics relating to football and other sports. She chose cheerleading as her theme, in part, to emphasize the athleticism it requires.

   “I felt like cheerleading should be known as a sport,” she said.

   Cummings students who took part in the camp were getting vigorous exercise in the school’s gym Thursday afternoon.

   “I used to run track, and we do a lot of stuff that track people do, too,” Parker said.

   Most camp participants stuck around despite the hard work.

   “We had 18,” Parker said Thursday. “Now, we’re down to 14.” Camp participants included one male student.

   Parker hoped the camp would help prepare students interested in trying out for the squad.

   Another goal was to combat the idea that cheerleaders have to have a certain look or style.

   “I think anybody can be a cheerleader,” she said, as long as they have enthusiasm and can learn the moves. “That’s what I’m trying to make them see in this camp.”

   Parker is senior class president at Cummings. She plans to attend either the University of North Carolina at Greensboro or North Carolina A&T State University.

   PARKER SAID SHE’S progressed a lot while cheering at Cummings, where Michelle Branch coaches the squad. She became a captain her junior year and continued in the role as a senior.

   Students in high schools in the Alamance-Burlington School System do graduation projects as part of their senior-year English class. Students pick topics that interest them and do research while finding ways to apply what they learn. The projects have a presentation component volunteers from the community are asked to help judge. Cope said people who want to help judge the projects at Cummings from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. May 24 are asked to contact Cynthia Phillips at cynthia_phillips@abss.k12.nc.us

  Cope said Parker and other students in her Advanced Placement English class have done most of their work on the projects on their own time.

  “When it’s something near and dear to their hearts it goes a lot easier,” she said.

  Another Cummings teacher, Melissa Armbrester, is Parker’s adviser for her project. She said it’s obvious Parker is passionate about cheerleading, and “she knows how to instill that passion in others.”

  The camp ended Friday with a competition that let students show off the progress they made.

  “I feel like I’ve touched other people,” Parker said.