A sparkling future

A dance team that gives all students a chance to dance.


Emily Grossnicklaus

Christella Payne (9), Lauren Rocca (12) and Marin Rust (9) are looking at possible uniforms for the Sparkle squad.

There is nothing the feel of a team win, knowing that something was accomplished together by a group of people that couldn’t possibly be done by one person.

A team of nine soccer players working together to move that ball down field–dodging the oppositions–best to score that goal. Celebrating each other’s victories together. Softball players chanting from the dugout as a teammate takes the plate for that crucial at bat.

“Teammates are important because they are always there for each other. They are supportive,” Matt Morrissey, rugby player, said. “In rugby, we always talk about how if you don’t want to win for your family or your coaches, do it for your teammates. They are the guys that push you to do greatness. They need you to win the game, and reach the end goal.”

This integral experience is something students with disabilities often miss out on.

Physical activities done by students without disabilities is 4.5 times higher than students with disabilities, so activities like the Sparkle squad will give students with disabilities an opportunity to be included.

Next year, Golden Line and Varsity cheer will be joined on the field by a unique dance team–Sparkle squad.

Sparkle squad dance teams integrate disabled and non-disabled high school students to perform at varsity football games and basketball games.

There are over 150 Sparkle squad dance teams within 26 states.

The mission of the Sparkle squad dance teams is to promote diversity and kindness within a school setting.

“I’m really excited for Sparkle squad. It gives kids an opportunity to participate in something that they may not normally participate in otherwise,” Ms. Betsy Cuquet, Golden Line coach, said. “It makes them get to feel included in school. It makes them get to do something that’s fun, and be involved. I think it sounds awesome.”

Lafayette recently started a Sparkle squad dance team. Lalia Muneton, Sparkle squad captain, took interest in their initiative and started a team at EHS.

“I saw that EHS didn’t have anything like the Sparkle squad where everyone could be included so I decided to start something up,” Muneton said. “My favorite part is I get to see everyone have fun and that it’s actually happening.”

Sparkle squad gives students with disabilities a chance to participate in school sports.

“My favorite part is we get to have a team where everyone is included,” Ashleigh Abbott, Sparkle squad captain, said. “It’s a good opportunity to give them the experience of a sport.”

Ten students, with and without disabilities, will  perform at four varsity football games and six varsity basketball games next school year.

“I’m kind of nervous about performing in front of people at games, but my favorite part is dancing with my friends and stuff like that and hanging out,” Jessica Nuckolls, Sparkle squad member, said. “Sparkle squad is going to be fun, and it’s going to be awesome.”

The opportunity to perform during Friday Night Lights has a lasting impact on the participants because it is the epitome of high school life.

“Teens in the SSD are very special, so I want them to feel like they’re part of EHS and part of our community, and that they’re not all alone,” Kashyarra Stanley, Sparkle squad member, said.“Also, I used to cheer. My favorite part is being a cheerleader again. Just being on the floor and cheering again is amazing.”  

The Sparkle squad gives anyone the chance to perform like cheer and Golden Line do almost every Friday night.

“I’m going to have a good time. I met a lot of friends and some of my friends are doing it,” Marin Rust, Sparkle squad member, said. “I joined because I wanted to make new friends. My favorite part is doing flips, tumbling and those things.”

Members of the Sparkle squad are excited and motivate each other to do their best.

“I love interacting with all the different types of people because they’re all really spirited. It’s different than being on Golden Line because it’s not as serious and they just have fun with it,” Lauren Rocca, assistant, said. “They work really hard but also have fun with each other. They laugh at their mistakes and are always helping each other. If someone doesn’t understand something, they are really willing to help.”

These students hope to expand those that know what it feels like to be a part of something bigger than themselves.