Demopolis Middle closes out Gear Up Week with pep rally

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With all the fanfare, excitement, and cheering that go along with a pep rally, 7th and 8th graders at Demopolis Middle School Friday ended the inaugural week of Gear Up, a seven-year program to prepare them for college and careers.

Dressed in bright green t-shirts, the students released hundreds of Demopolis Tiger blue and white balloons that sailed into the sky. Each balloon carried a card on which they had written their goals for life, whether a skill to be learned or a career to follow.

The event kicked off with both DMS and Demopolis High School cheerleaders getting the crowd excited. The Tiger mascot performed a dance, and senior DHS football players gave advice for those who will soon follow them.

Leaving the gym, the students passed through the tunnel to the football field and were handed a balloon under darkening skies. On a signal by principal Blaine Hathcock, they let go and watched as the balloons soared to the southwest.

Gear Up Site Coordinator Brooke Luker the said week had been very successful. It began with a college fair on Monday, with 13 colleges and businesses taking part. Tuesday had students wearing their favorite college colors. That was also Parent Night, and Luker said the turnout was better than expected.

Wednesday featured a talk by the first paraplegic to receive an athletic scholarship to the University of West Alabama, and Thursday had students using an education theme to decorate classroom doors.

Students release balloons with their career goals attached. (Photos by Jan McDonald)

Students release balloons with their career goals attached. (Photos by Jan McDonald)

Students who successfully complete the requirements of the Gear Up program are eligible for college scholarships.

As they waited for the signal to release their balloons, several students shared what they had written on their cards.

Jackie Reed, 8th grade, said he wanted to “get good at basketball.” Honey Boston’s goal is to become a nurse, while Alexis Speed, also an 8th grader, wants to be “a baby doctor.” Caleb Parten hopes to be a football player as well as earn a master’s degree in history.