Woodlawn High will host a pep rally for the first time in nearly three years next Friday, Sept. 30.

The event celebrating homecoming, including the Panthers’ football game that evening against St. James, will be held in the gymnasium during the final block of the day.

Students must have a ticket to attend. Tickets are available for purchase during lunch this week for $1 in the courtyard.

And those festivities are just the first of a slate of events being planned for not only football season, but throughout the school year.

“As a student, I’m very excited to be a part of our pep rally committee this year to help make up for all the others we missed,” said Layla Shelton, a senior and a member of the Panthers’ cheerleading squad. “I look forward to expanding the school’s spirit.”

The joint group of students and teachers hope to help highlight some of the achievements and activities happening on campus and spark a level of enthusiasm and morale hindered by COVID-19 limitations the past two years.

“This is my second year at Woodlawn, and the first year it felt really different,” cheer sponsor Ashley Thomas said. “Having such a small squad and hearing from the squad how much everything would change year to year whether a new sponsor 

“Then hearing about how the football program has grown so much and brought recognition for the school, but yet the students didn’t necessarily feel that or feel a part of that school spirit… that became almost a passion project.”

Thomas and fellow teacher Nancy Geter, whose club sponsorship includes the yearbook and color guard, helped spearhead the committee of about 12 members including faculty and students.

The next pep rallies are planned to lead into the Panthers’ nationally televised matchup Oct. 6 against Zachary and the opening round of the playoffs Nov. 11.

“It’s good to have pep rallies back because it boosts the school morale and can help get people more excited for the games and also help get the players more excited,” senior defensive lineman Devin Boyd said. “The last two years we didn’t have pep rallies, so having those back is going to get us more excited and bring more fans, I feel like, by getting them more hyped about the game when we have a good pep rally.”

But principal Scott Stevens and the pep rally committee agreed on the importance to continue that schedule into the spring for other sports and student organizations.

“It’s such a big campus with so many students that there’s something here for everybody,” Thomas said. “So that was idea behind not only highlighting the football team and the great things happening there, but also the hard work other student and teachers are doing in other areas, like showing what the theatre program can do because they have incredible performances, or the orchestra and how the band has grown.

“There’s really no better way to bring the school together than having a pep rally where you can showcase everything.”