Four Tahlequah Public Schools students will be participating in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade this year, as long as they can raise the money for the six-day trip.
Amy Wright, Tahlequah Middle School choir director and pom sponsor for TMS and Tahlequah High School, took the pom and cheerleaders to American Spirit Cheer Essentials camp in June.
"Everybody learns the same camp dance, whether cheer or pom. They tried out, and 15 girls from THS and TMS got bids for the All-Star team," said Wright. "Some parents were interested in New York."
Wright had to get approval from the school board before committing to the trip because it required a substantial down payment. They began the process in July, and the four students have been fundraising ever since.
The students from THS are juniors Rachel Gibbs and Aubrey Sumner, and the eighth-graders from TMS are Jaycie Wright and Natalie Edwards.
"Camp was challenging, but fun," said Natalie, 13, who has been to NYC twice before.
They are among 500 students selected nationwide who will perform before millions of people, as well as those who watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV.
They could be entered into several categories, but Wright chose to enter them all under pom so they would be together and rehearse in the same space.
"It's our first attempt at doing this. They are going to be great. They are responsible young ladies," said Wright. "It's a big deal; I'm super-excited!"
In terms of distance, this will be the farthest Wright has ever taken students.
"It's a good experience to see if this is something we'll do again." she said. "They will get there Saturday, have a meeting, check into the hotel and then have rehearsal. ASCE productions sets up everything for them."
The students will have an extensive schedule to follow while in NYC. Along with rehearsals, they will take a tour of New York sites, such as Liberty Island, 9/11 Memorial Museum, the Empire State Building, and Times Square. They will see the Radio City Rockettes perform, as well as a Broadway show.
While the pom students have participated in parades before, it was usually from atop a float. This time, they will be performing in the street on the parade route.
"I'm excited about getting to go," said Jaycie, 13.
While Natalie looks forward to visiting the Statue of Liberty again, Jaycie wants to see the 9/11 Memorial.
"None of these ladies were alive when that happened, so it'll be a cool experience for them," said Wright.
The basic cost to participate in this trip is $2,500 each, but that does not include airfare and other necessities. It does include the NYC tour, subway passes, and tickets to attractions and shows, as well as their uniforms, jackets and other ASCE items. Part of the expenses have been paid for by parents and Wright, but they still need around $10,000, and that is due Sept. 15.
"It's pretty cool all of the things that are included," said Wright. "Whatever we don't fundraise, these parents will have to pay. I wish the pom account was strong enough to support everyone. We're working on building it up by fundraising."
Along with other fundraising efforts, the students worked at Wheelhouse Kitchen one night. They have been asking community members and businesses for sponsorships.
Donations are tax-deductible as a charitable donation and-or advertising. Sponsors will be listed on a NYC Pom T-shirt, as well as acknowledged in all printed and online publications and social media. The sponsorship levels are: bronze, up to $50; silver, $51-150; gold, $151-499; and platinum, $500 or more. Gold and platinum sponsors will be mentioned in media events, which are to be scheduled.
This Saturday, they will host a benefit breakfast 7-10 a.m. in the Tahlequah First Baptist Church Activities Building, 201 Ron Rice Ave. Along with a meal of pancakes, sausage, egg casserole, fresh fruit, gluten-free options, coffee, milk and juice, there will be a silent auction. Tickets are $8 for one, $15 for two, or $20 for three. Tickets are available from the All Star pom students, Wright, or at the door.
Wright has been directing pom at TMS for three years, and this is her first year with THS pom.
"I'm really excited to get to know those girls. We have some very talented dancers. Every one of these girls is talented enough to qualify," said Wright.
You can help
For information on how to donate, contact Amy Wright at email@example.com, or call the Tahlequah Middle School office at 918-458-4140. Checks written to TPS - Pom can be mailed to: Attn. Amy Wright, Tahlequah Middle School, 871 Pendleton St. Tahlequah, OK 74464.