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The Good Stuff: Something to cheer about

Tribute to Haughton’s Kelli Shaw
Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 11:31 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 7, 2021 at 12:50 PM CDT
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HAUGHTON, La. (KSLA) - It’s a half hour before the Haughton Bucs kick off their Friday night football game with the Benton Tigers, and there are close to four dozens ladies hiding in the hallway of the athletic department field house.

But it was for a good reason. They couldn’t dare allow Kelli Shaw see them, at least not until they were ready to surprise her.

“Ms. Shaw is the best of the best,” stated Sarah Thrash, a senior at Haughton High School during Shaw’s first year as the Bucs’ cheerleading sponsor during the 1995-96 school year.

Kelli Shaw is surrounded by dozens of former Haughton High School cheerleaders.
Kelli Shaw is surrounded by dozens of former Haughton High School cheerleaders.(KSLA)

On this night, dozens of Shaw’s former cheerleaders secretly planned to meet and surprise her to show their appreciation for all she’s done for them and the Haughton community through the years.

“There have been lots of group texts,” leading up to this big night admitted Rachel Burke who drove in from Baton Rouge.

And at just the right moment, while chanting “Go Bucs Go,” these ladies came streaming out of hiding and marched straight up to Shaw who quickly began wiping away the tears.

“Oh my gosh, I’m so excited,” Shaw repeated while beginning a series of hugs that nearly lasted up to kickoff of the football game.

“It made my heart so happy to see these girls from all the way back to 1995 to just last year,” smiled Shaw.

But little did she know this pre-game reunion wasn’t the end-all of the night ahead.

After later slipping into usual role of guiding the cheerleaders along the sidelines in the game, these ladies were preparing to do something some of them hadn’t done in over two decades - perform on the football field at halftime.

Dozens of former and current Haughton High School cheerleaders prepare for a special...
Dozens of former and current Haughton High School cheerleaders prepare for a special performance for cheerleader sponsor Kelli Shaw.(KSLA)

“We just don’t want to fall while running out there,” joked Andrea Spinney, a member of Shaw’s first cheerleading squad who is now the principal of Haughton Elementary.

And as soon as the players hit the locker room at halftime, rows and rows of cheerleaders ran onto the field to perform the Bucs fight song for their dear Ms. Shaw.

“Tried and true throughout the years, patient and full of joy,” Spinney bragged about Shaw, who was never a cheerleader, but represented her school as a Haughton High Stepper back in 1983.

Kelli Shaw first started working as Haughton High's cheerleading sponsor during the 1995-96...
Kelli Shaw first started working as Haughton High's cheerleading sponsor during the 1995-96 school year.(Shaw family)

“She’s kind to everyone and that’s what draws so many girls to want to work under her.”

For the second time in one night, Shaw was once again brought to her emotional limits as she watched three decades of her cheerleaders on the football, all at one time.

“It’s truly one of the most special nights every,” gleamed Shaw.

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