Eisenhower Junior High has a new cheer squad star

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TAYLORSVILLE, Utah - Students at Eisenhower Junior High in Taylorsville are reaching out to include everyone.

Lily Smith is a student at Eisenhower, and next year, she'll be on the cheer squad.  Lily will be the first student with Down syndrome to be on Eisenhower's cheer squad.

"One thing we're announcing is Lily Smith is a student who will be a cheerleader. Lily has Down syndrome. The mother is very clear, and we all know she does not suffer from Down syndrome," said principal Mary Rhodes.

When she learned about tryouts, Lily wanted to try out, so her parents got in touch with a former Eisenhower cheerleader to help her prepare.

"As soon as we found out that there were going to be cheerleading tryouts and she wanted to try out," said Suzie Smith, Lily's mom. "She practiced for about three weeks with Lily after school and helped her with her routines and her dance and helped her make up her original cheer."

When the time for tryouts came, Lily was ready.

"We had rubric and criteria set up for the scoring, and based on those criteria, Lily will be a cheerleader at Eisenhower Junior High next year," Rhodes said.

Rhodes says this is just one example of how students at Eisenhower work to encourage and support their fellow classmates.

"We hope it's not a precedent. We hope it's part of the culture here. That students really are encouraged to follow their desires and they're educated, elevated and promoted to new levels at the school," Rhodes said.

Lily and the rest of the new cheer squad was introduced to the student body Thursday at their annual goodbye ceremony.