Is anyone else as confused as I am about what is going on at Newport
Harbor High School ("Argument drowns out cheers," Dec. 29)? Cheerleading
tryouts took place Nov. 29, but just who is on the squads is still in
question. So far, this is what I've been able to surmise from minimal
facts and maximum rumors.
The first inkling of a problem emerged when practices had been
canceled with the excuse that there had been some confusion with the
tryout process. This came after a 20-minute lecture at the initial
information meeting about the fairness and efficiency of the process as
it has been used for about 13 years. This year, something went wrong.
Here is where rumor became the only source of information. Allegedly, one
of the girls who tried out for varsity and did not make the team had a
case of sour grapes. This inspired juvenile whining, and the highly
unprofessional reaction of an attorney threatening the district with a
(Time for some facts, me thinks) After spending 40 minutes in the
office at Newport Harbor on Dec. 7, it was determined that the vice
principal addressing the issue was not in the building nor was she
expected to return. So much for gathering valid information.
But, I am determined. Monday saw me back in the offices. While waiting
for the vice principal (who was in the building), I picked up a copy of
the Newport Harbor High School Beacon (Nov. 16). In an article titled
"Show Me That School Spirit: The Cheerleader's Story," it was quoted that
practices had become harder and expectations were higher this year for
the cheerleaders. Also, the squads had become more unified, and because
of this the squads had improved in both quality and dedication. Hmm,
interesting Watson, very interesting.
My turn in the vice principal's office. She is a consummate
professional and was very pleasant with a kind and thoughtful demeanor as
she explained that it was a concern with the process of the tryout that
was at question. I was informed that great consultations took place with
all persons concerned (I guess my invitation was lost in the mail), and
the decision made -- that both the school and the district would stand by
-- was to include all those who tried out for the teams to be on the
(Next rumor: It was not a lawsuit, not a question of the "process,"
but the fact that some girls who did not make varsity should have,
according to the coaching staff.)
Where are those unified teams working for higher quality now? Can a
sense of "team" be established now that the integrity of the membership
process has been compromised? No longer can the girls who initially "made
the cut" feel accomplished or special. No longer exists a sense of being
unique. No longer the concept that hard work, dedication and practice
will result in achievement. (Apparently, simply showing up will be
sufficient to make the squad . . . or showing up with mom and her
In a letter to parents and cheerleaders, Principal Michael Vossen
requested the understanding of those who made the squad by trying out. He
stated they "do not wish to send the message that a process can simply be
thrown aside . . ." But, that is exactly what was done.
Does the administration realize the blow they have struck against the
concept of professionalism? Isn't high school the time to learn how to be
an adult, how to behave as an adult? Apparently, this is false. (So much
for the years I spent as a parent trying to instill worthless concepts
such as professionalism and integrity.)
Practices resumed with about 50 girls total. Emotions were high.
Resentment flavored the autumn air, but the teens have integrity and made
But wait! This is not the end. Once again, practices are suspended
until further notice. There has been some dissent from somewhere. The
girls are told nothing, just sent away. Uniforms will not be ordered --
and this after spending an hour at one of the most disorganized meetings
I've ever attended; routines will not be practiced. One week to go before
the winter break, and chaos reigns. What happened to the decision of the
committee? Where are those professionals to whom we have granted our
trust and our children that claimed great time and consideration was
spent and we have made a decision? Do they stand behind it? Guess not.
Winter break arrives and still no word about what is going to happen
with the cheerleading squads at Newport Harbor. Everyone is gone for the
holiday. No one is available at the school. No one is available at the
district. How convenient.
The next rumor arrives. The committee (again, my invitation must have
been misplaced) had come to another "decision." They have decided to act
in a manner befitting the station of leaders of the school district. They
will be firm in their actions and stand behind their combined wisdom and
leadership. The committee has decreed that they don't know what to do and
they will make the girls who initially made the team take the heat and
this group of teenagers will decide if the other girls should be on the
squad or not, effectively making scapegoats of the children. I am very
hopeful that this rumor will not be substantiated, but I am truly
No word over the break if there will be practices when classes resume
in January. No word as to who is actually on the squad. Just silence. I
think, perhaps, that is an action the committee can stand behind.
* Judy F. Richonne is a Newport Beach resident.