Sept. 25, 2013
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Mizzou Athletics will host approximately 120 members of the Cedar Ridge Elementary School community this Saturday for the Tiger Football game against Arkansas State, as part of the exciting RALLY Club program.
The RALLY Club - which stands for Recognizing Achievement, Learning and Leadership in our Youth - represents a unique partnership with the MU College of Education, Columbia Public Schools and Mizzou Athletics, and it honors local grade school children and administrators for their scholastic and leadership achievements. The program rewards boys and girls who have made personal gains in their school accomplishments and who have contributed positively to the learning community as a student leader.
The program began this past winter as Athletics hosted student leaders from Russell Boulevard Elementary at numerous Tiger men's basketball games. Saturday's football game will mark Cedar Ridge's first RALLY Club recognition, and Leigh Neier, a professor with the MU College of Education, says this is only the beginning.
"Our goal is to continue to expand the program to recognize the fantastic things our elementary students, teachers, and families are doing to build healthy school communities," Neier said. "The Cedar Ridge community stands out as one of the Columbia Public Schools that focuses on achievement and leadership opportunities for its students. This collaboration between Columbia Public Schools and Mizzou Athletics is a dynamic way to recognize the gains our students and teachers are making every single day in the classroom. We are very thankful for the support of the Athletic Department for the invitation to celebrate their success." she said.
Ultimately, the RALLY Club has plans for current Mizzou student-athletes in all sports to spend time with the children in a number of settings, including sitting together during games, visiting at school and other mentorship opportunities. Future plans also call for the RALLY Club to expand to other schools throughout Columbia.
Cedar Ridge Elementary Principal Angie Chandler said she is very excited about the program including her school.
"Many of our students who live right here in Columbia would never have the opportunity to go to a game with their family due to financial limitations, and this offers a way for our kids to experience a very important part of our town," Chandler said. "Community is important and we are honored to partner with the RALLY Club and Mizzou to provide an important link between our school and the community. Cedar Ridge has worked hard implementing a new way to deliver curriculum and has seen big gains in district and state test scores. The mentorship opportunities we have experienced and will continue to foster with MU has made a direct impact on our students. When they feel connected to Mizzou through student-athlete contact and the RALLY Club, there are no limits for them," she said.
Mizzou Deputy Athletics Director Doug Gillin said that the younger kids aren't the only ones who benefit from this partnership.
"The mentorship opportunities that our student-athletes experience through this program are really important," Gillin said. "It's impossible to place a value on this type of partnership - it's a win-win for everyone, and we're looking forward to having our Cedar Ridge friends join us for another exciting Tiger game this Saturday," he said.