A high school in New Jersey finds itself mired in controversy after instituting a new rule that allows any student, regardless of skill, to join the cheerleading squad. In an effort to be more inclusive, officials at Hanover Park High School in East Hanover, NJ, implemented the new policy after the parents of a student who was cut from the squad complained that the “selection process” was unfair. Moving forward, the school announced that anyone who tried out would make the squad.
School officials informed students that any junior or senior would automatically join the “higher-level team,” while freshman and sophomores would be placed on the “lower-level team.” Previously, there had been three squad “levels” based on skill level, as opposed to what grades the students were in. Hanover High School Superintendent Carol Grossi told Buzzfeed News the change was made because a “discrepancy was reported concerning the selection of the three varsity cheerleading squads.”
But several students and parents have complained that the new system punishes younger students who work hard and/or have more talent, as it relegates them to a lower squad based entirely on age. A few even addressed the school’s board of education meeting last week to voice their concerns.
“I came up here to state that I did not put in 18 months of work to lead up to this moment, just to be told it didn’t matter anymore,” said Jada Alcontara, a sophomore at Hanover.
Angry parents have flooded the school’s Facebook page to criticize the decision, saying that the school is teaching kids to be “snowflakes” who will believe they can always get what they want if they complain enough. Superintendent Grossi, however, insists that the new policy will help keep students from feeling left out or unwanted. “This decision was made in the best interest of our students and was made to be as inclusive as possible,” Grossi said.