A New Jersey high school became embroiled in controversy when rumors reached the public that it had allowed all who tried out for its cheerleading team make the final squad. Reports from outlets, including the Associated Press, claimed that decision followed a complaint from a cheerleading parent.
The Hanover Park disagreement all led to a showdown in front of the board of education, when cheerleader Stephanie Krueger told the board her hard work “has been thrown out the window.”
Now the school itself is offering a response, via our Gannett partners at the Courier News:
Historically, Hanover Park had three cheerleading squads; Black, White and Gold, representing the school’s colors. Interested participants are required to audition for the squads and a selection is made based on certain criteria. Every individual who seeks to participate in cheerleading is placed on one of the three squads. Furthermore, every participant, regardless of squad, has always received a varsity letter.
The high school principal received multiple appeals concerning the process that was implemented in selecting students for the various squads. As a result of our investigation, it was discovered that a modification was made for qualification to the black squad. This modification increased the number of students who had qualified for black squad based on a scoring decision.
Based on the core values contained in the guidelines for cheerleading, the principal determined that for the 2018-19 school year, the three squads were condensed to two squads, an upperclassmen squad and an underclassmen squad. This change will be considered as a precursor to future changes moving HPHS toward a standard Varsity/Junior Varsity format for the 2019-20 school year. This Varsity/Junior Varsity format is universally practiced across the state and country for cheerleading and other school athletic activities.
All of this additional information does clarify what transpired a little bit. The disappointment clearly came from the more standardized format for the squads, which essentially casts aside the skill of freshmen and sophomore cheerleaders in favor of the automatic promotion of upperclass members of the squad. That certainly makes the disappointment of Krueger understandable, particularly considering the expectation that the traditional three squad format featuring merit-based treatment was still going to be used for the season.
However, the true x-factor in this equation is the program’s stated plans for the 2019-2020 season. If the transition to a true varsity/junior varsity system includes a traditional merit based calculus to determine who plays for which squad, then a transitional year between the two systems could make some sense.
As is often the case, the deeper details here help explain the decision, and perhaps mitigate some of the furore.