Some Cape Girardeau students may not be able to spell homecoming, but they can cheer and shout about it.
At Franklin Elementary School in Cape Girardeau on Wednesday afternoon, 175 children from first through fourth grades cheered loudly for Southeast Missouri State University's homecoming celebration at a pep rally led by 18 of the university's cheerleaders and football players.
"South-East," the children cheered and then clapped their hands twice to the instruction of cheerleaders, the sound reverberating throughout the gym.
First-grader Michaela Markhart, 6, loved the pep rally.
"I like watching the cheerleaders," she said. "I am going to be a cheerleader when I grow up."
Besides the cheerleading routines and the chants of "Let's go, SEMO," the college students leading the pep rally had a message to deliver: Don't do drugs and stay in school.
"To play football you have to be physically fit," said Rezese Putman, a freshman running back from St. Louis. "You've got to stay in school to play football."
The Student Alumni Association at Southeast organized the half-hour rally.
Rhonda Dunham, school principal, was thrilled for her students. She said they look up to college cheerleaders and football players.
"They can actually change a child's life in a few short minutes," Dunham said. "Those kids are in awe."
Southeast will celebrate homecoming on Saturday with a parade at 9 a.m. and a football game at 11:30 a.m. at Houck Stadium against Eastern Illinois University. The game will be televised locally on WQWQ Channel 9, which is Channel 33 on cable.
Some Franklin students said they couldn't spell homecoming. A few knew homecoming involved a parade. Others weren't even sure what it was.
Third-grader Todd Grovenor, 8, enjoyed watching male cheerleaders throw female cheerleaders into the air. But he would prefer to be a football player.
"You get to tackle and also there is a band there," he said after the rally.
Fourth-grader Ami Godbey, 9, hasn't been to a football game. Ami, who participates in gymnastics, said she liked the cheerleading routines.
"I'd like to be thrown up in the air," she said.
335-6611, extension 123
Want to go?
When: 9 a.m. Saturday
Where: Broadway from Capaha Park to downtown
When: 10 to 11:15 a.m. Saturday
Where: Houck Stadium tailgate area
Who: Eastern Illinois
When: 11:30 a.m. Saturday
Where: Houck Stadium
On the air: K103-FM, The Football Network, WQWQ-TV