PITTSTON — Kaleigh Valeski has been to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. numerous times, but her most recent trip there was for something extra special.
Valeski, 17, a senior cheerleader for Pittston Area High School, took her talents to the sunshine state to participate in the first-ever Varsity Spirit Spectacular.
The event was held Dec. 6 and included a parade of over 800 high school cheerleaders and dancers from across the country performing dance routines on Disney’s Magic Kingdom Main Street.
The Pittston resident flew to Orlando Dec. 3 and started practicing the next day.
“Our first practice was six hours and then two hours the next day,” said Valeski. “We had the routine sent to us through email before we got there, so we had to know the material before we got there and then we just cleaned it up and went over tighter motions and we set everyone into formation when we got there.”
With over 800 students on hand, there were overwhelming aspects of trying to build chemistry with so many people.
Despite the heavy number, Valeski did her best to help her fellow cheerleaders with the routine while also receiving help herself.
“The girls around me in the formation seemed to help a lot if I had questions,” Valeski said. “Some of the girls went and did different moves at different times than everyone else, and I talked to the girls in the same routine who helped me learn some moves and I helped them clean some stuff up and be tighter and stiffer.”
Participation in the Varsity Spirit Spectacular did not require an audition tape or visits from talent scouts, as Valeski said she heard about the event when she traveled with her fellow Pittston Area cheerleaders to Pine Forest Cheer Camp this past summer.
“They picked a few seniors from each squad and gave out a pamphlet to go down to Disney for the week to do the parade and it’s optional, because you have to pay for it by yourself; it’s not through the school,” she said. “Most girls don’t do it because it’s a little expensive, but I chose to.”
By “a little expensive” Valeski meant she spent $3,000 to participate. Her parents gave her the option of doing the parade or having a graduation party.
“I’m a really big Disney fan, so I kind of had to do this,” she said.”
After hard work and long hours, the parade went off without a hitch. Valeski made plenty of new friends and toured Disney Land Resorts with them.
The bond she made with her fellow cheerleaders followed her when she returned to Pittston.
“I connected with some of them through Instagram and Twitter and got a few phone numbers,” Valeski said. “We text here and there, but we like to send pictures of Disney that we have from rides and stuff through direct messaging on Twitter and Instagram. So, we share the rides we were on and our experiences.”
Participating in the Varsity Spirit Spectacular was a huge moment for Valeski, considering she’s only been a cheerleader since her sophomore year.
With many friends already on the squad, Valeski made the decision to join and never looked back.
“I liked the teamwork aspect of it and I liked the spirit part of it, too,” she said. “I liked getting crowds motivated at games for high school.”
With her high school career coming to a close, Valeski will attend The University of Scranton in the fall to major in Early Childhood Education and minor in Special Education.
Despite a short, yet, stellar cheerleading career, she is not sure if she will continue cheering in college or if she’ll hang up the pom poms for good.
“I’m kind of in between focusing on my school work for my first year or getting involved with the sport just to get used to it for the next few years,” said Valeski. “I haven’t decided yet.”
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher