Student Well-Being

Totally Radical

September 01, 2003 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Radical Teen squad roots for political causes rather than football teams.
—Photograph by Steve Goldstein

Don’t let the kick pleats and matching tops fool you—these cheerleaders are anything but typical. For the past year, the 10 or so Los Angeles high schoolers who are Radical Teen Cheer have been showing up at protests, demonstrations, and benefits, sometimes as often as five times a week. They address issues, ranging from the U.S. presence in Iraq to sexual assault to sweatshops, with staccato lines such as “Hey Bush! Who fights your wars? Just mi-nor-i-ties and the poor.” And they aren’t the only ones. Politically oriented cheering squads have cropped up across the United States, though their members are largely college-age or older.

In fact, RTC was born after a couple of teachers (who wish to remain anonymous) heard about one squad and passed along the idea. Students from several communities got involved, some of whom are also on regular high school cheering teams—including Larry (the, yes, guy in the middle of the large photo). Yesenia (third from left), one of the founding members of the group, says they all do it because they’re committed to a message. “Equality and diversity. Equality between classes and all types of people. We all have to stick together,” the 18-year-old states. “It’s like, the performance grabs attention, and then the message gets out. We’re not just a bunch of kids yelling and screaming.”

—Lani Harac


Special Education Webinar Reading, Dyslexia, and Equity: Best Practices for Addressing a Threefold Challenge
Learn about proven strategies for instruction and intervention that support students with dyslexia.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Personalized Learning Webinar
No Time to Waste: Individualized Instruction Will Drive Change
Targeted support and intervention can boost student achievement. Join us to explore tutoring’s role in accelerating the turnaround. 
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools
Student Well-Being K-12 Essentials Forum Social-Emotional Learning: Making It Meaningful
Join us for this event with educators and experts on the damage the pandemic did to academic and social and emotional well-being.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Well-Being What the Research Says Teen Brains Aged Prematurely During the Pandemic. Schools Should Take Note
Researchers cite chronic stress during the pandemic for the phenomenon, which can affect mental health among youth.
3 min read
Cracked silhouette of a person holding their head with illuminated gears in place of the brain.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Student Well-Being Sports Coaches Want More Training on How to Address Young Athletes' Mental Health
A survey found that only 18 percent of coaches feel confident that they know how to connect their athletes to mental health supports.
4 min read
Physical Education teacher Amanda DeLaGarza instructs students how to stretch during 7th grade P.E. class at Cockrill Middle School on Nov. 9, 2016 in McKinney, Texas.
Schools in the United States earned a D-minus grade in 2022 in an international ranking from the Physical Activity Alliance for how well they facilitate access to physical activity for students. Research shows that physical activity, such as participation in sports, improves mental health.
Ting Shen/The Dallas Morning News via AP
Student Well-Being Opinion One Simple Thing You Can Do to Make Yourself Happier
A happiness and time researcher shares a simple hack to make experiences more pleasurable.
Cassie Holmes
1 min read
Images shows a stylized artistic landscape with soothing colors.
Student Well-Being Schools Are Not Identifying All Their Homeless Students. Why That Is Hurting the Kids
Hundreds of thousands of homeless students are not receiving the services they need, new report says.
3 min read
A young Black girl with her head down on a stack of books at her desk in a classroom