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Field of Screams

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Q. What has 230 pompoms, an equal number of saddle shoes, and covers an entire football field?

A. The 115-member cheerleading squad of the Plainfield Middle Community School outside Indianapolis.

The jumbo-sized team is one of many burgeoning extracurricular activities resulting from a brainstorm by Principal Jerry Goldsberry. Three years ago, he enacted a no-cut policy for all sports and academic clubs. As a result, student participation has boomed in everything from choir to volleyball.

The principal points out that 60 percent of students now participate in extracurricular activities. He also seems pleased with the higher gate receipts coming from all those proud parents watching their offspring swarm the playing fields and school auditorium.

The Wildcat cheerleaders, who often break into two or three squads for different sporting events, reportedly are especially impressive, often overwhelming those of rival teams. During a time out at one basketball game, the girls performed a chorus line that spanned the length of the court.

"When one in six students is wearing a cheerleading outfit on game days,'' Mr. Goldsberry says, "it does a lot for school spirit.''

The pleased principal plans on continuing the no-cut policy as long as students swell the ranks of Plainfield's mega-teams. In that case, Plainfield could be the first school to win games by mass intimidation.--S.K.G.

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