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Cheerleading mix-up expected to end today

January 08, 2002

Deirdre Newman

NEWPORT BEACH -- Prospective cheerleaders at Newport Harbor High

School, who have endured an emotional roller coaster over the past month,

will find out today whether they can order their sweaters and pompoms for

the upcoming cheer season.

The Newport Harbor cheerleading community has been torn apart by mixed

signals from Principal Michael Vossen as to how many girls will be

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allowed to participate.

After listening to the girls Monday, Vossen said he will announce this

afternoon how many girls will earn coveted spots on the school's two

squads.

As the decision nears, Vossen continues to incur the wrath of many

cheerleaders and some parents who charge him with repeatedly reneging on

his word -- the latest instance being his change of heart in not letting

the cheerleaders vote on who should be on the squad after he reportedly

said he would.

"I'm outraged. He's a liar," said Sherry Blake, whose daughter, Erin,

made the original varsity team.

For the past month, the 16 hopeful cheerleaders have been dangling

while Vossen vacillates between keeping all the girls who tried out on

the team and only allowing the girls who made it the first time to

participate.

The cheerleading saga started in late November, when the cheerleading

rosters were posted and allegations spread about judging inconsistencies.

Cheer coach Lisa Callahan, who has taught the girls their jumps and

splits for the past 13 years, said she witnessed irregularities in the

judging that distorted the final results. She also blames cheer advisor

Jennifer Cilderman for altering the final scores by providing her input,

which Callahan says the cheer advisor is not supposed to do.

Vossen agreed with Callahan -- as did Assistant Supt. Jaime

Castellanos -- that the best resolution would be to let all the girls who

tried out be on the team. He then sent out a letter saying so on Dec. 12.

Some parents of the girls who made the original cut complained to the

district that the school had to abide by the rules in the cheerleading

handbook, which states that all judging decisions are final. Parents and

students signed a contract agreeing to the judges' decision before the

tryouts.

The complaint set in motion an ad hoc committee that recommended

holding a second set of tryouts for the girls who didn't make it the

first time to fill two new spots on the varsity squad and two on the

junior varsity squad.

But on Dec. 21, when Vossen announced this suggestion to the parents

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