Seniors Amber Eblin, Sarah Squires and Holly Frye and sophomore Sydney Brooks show off Chieftain Heart shirts worn by members of Union High’s new spirit club. School board granted club status Jan. 28 at the middle school.

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Chieftain Heart given club status

Published 11:08am Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A unanimous Dowagiac Board of Education granted Chieftain Heart club status Monday night at the middle school.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the kids,” said board member Beth Davis, seconded by Larry Schmidt.

“I was really impressed with the variety of activities provided during the summer,” board member Claudia Zebell said. “I’m grateful for the wonderful staff we have here in Dowagiac, including Mr. Cornelius and Mrs. Gnodtke, who give their lives to our students — inside and outside the classroom.”

Born in 2011 to support the basketball team’s run to the final four behind the motto, “12 Deep, One Heartbeat,” the spirit club co-advised by English teacher Dustin Cornelius and business teacher Kelley Gnodtke celebrates Chieftain student success in all activities.

The Chieftain Heart put up posters encouraging juniors taking the ACT college admission test. April 13, 2012, there was a “Back to the ’80s” dance.

May 15 teachers and students faced off in what will be an annual volleyball tournament combined with a bake sale.

The club stayed active through the summer with a camp and a fundraiser called the Full Moon Bike-a-Thon, where businesses sponsored riders during July 3’s full moon.

With $550 raised, Chieftain Heart had T-shirts made with business logos on the back. They also purchased half-size business cards to promote the club — each displaying a different Chieftain Heart activity.

Students also operate a Chieftain Heart store before, after and between classes at school.

On Jan. 11, Chieftain Heart sponsored a black light dance after boys and girls basketball games.

Membership is open to any interested students, staff or administrators, according to its “constitution.”

Student Isabel Vasquez said, “School spirit cannot be easily defined. That’s because school spirit consists of a vast number of things, such as wearing a Dowagiac shirt or school colors. Chieftain Heart helps make school spirit important to the school. School spirit motivates ourselves and other students to keep going. School spirit is important because it gives you a reason to want to go to school and keeps it interesting. Having spirit shows our teachers and friends we have a common goal, which is to create a positive learning environment while engaging both students and teachers. Having it is one of many things that makes going to school exciting.”

Vasquez said The Chieftain Heart brings together the band and athletes.

“We decorate the hallways in our school and give different people awareness about each other while having fun. School spirit is the glue that bonds us together, no matter what their individual background is. It supports unity in the school.”

“Isabel covered it perfectly,” Cornelius said. “It’s just to promote a positive attitude and atmosphere in Dowagiac. We want our kids to support our school, not only in athletics, but also in other venues and avenues, such as academics.

“Summer camp gave kids an opportunity to do something positive in the summertime to keep them out of trouble (such as geocaching, “which is kind of like an Easter egg hunt, but with all different objects”). During lunchtime in the cafeteria, sometimes we’ll play trivia games. And obviously, pep assemblies.”

Money made through the store will be spent on a sound system for dances and music at basketball games, sophomore Sydney Brooks said.


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