She’s only a senior, but Palmetto High’s Hannah Kealy is a super coach and she has taken her Coral Reef Broncos competitive cheerleading team to a national championship.
“I’ve coached them all since they were in first grade,” she says. “Now they are in fifth and sixth grade. They started competing last year. We got first place at our local competitions and third place at the regional competition. If we had gotten second place, we could have gone to nationals.”
This year they won the regionals and the national championship.
Kealy started her cheerleading career as a Broncos cheerleader and also went to the national championships. She began coaching in ninth grade because the Broncos program actively recruits former cheerleaders to come back as coaches.
“From every graduating class of Broncos, two or three girls are picked,” Kealy says.
Kealy is the captain of Palmetto’s cheerleading team, which keeps her busy. She’s also editor-in-chief of the yearbook. And she takes an online physical education class for her sixth period. To be able to keep up with all of her activities, she does her homework in sixth period and she does her online class homework on Sundays.
“They give you activities that you have to do. You record those activities,” she says. “You do it again in a month. I can complete the assignments all day on Sunday. I have more time during that hour. I use it as a study hall.”
Just before the holidays, the yearbook staff was on supercharged mode. The first big deadline was Dec. 3, with 100 pages to be turned in. The next — and biggest deadline — was Dec. 21. At that time they had to turn in the underclass, the senior section and the ads for the back of the book.
In addition cheerleading and yearbook, Kealy is involved in the Pink Ribbon Club and Key Club. She’s also been a part of a Relay for Life team and expects to lead a team this year.
“The past two years we’ve made cups filled with lemonade and ice tea,” she says. “I didn’t really know about Relay for Life, so I’ve been on a friend’s team and they graduated. So it’s my turn.”
Last year, Kealy completed her Girl Scout Gold Award project which she began in 10th grade.
“I went to a Title One elementary school – Miami Heights Elementary school,” she says. “I talked to the principal about what I wanted to do. I went in and planted a butterfly garden and established a butterfly buddy program.”
She bought 30 plants for the garden, as well as seeds and mulch. She had a group of 10 volunteers to plant the garden.
The butterfly buddy program taught the kids all about the garden and how to take care of it. And when to tell the teacher about problems, such as dead plants.
“I made a little packet and gave it to the teacher. The packet is kid friendly,” she says. “We have to do a project that is sustained. That is why we have the Butterfly Buddies.”
Her future includes a career in the communications field, probably something in design or advertising. She has applied to the University of Florida, Boston University, the University of Iowa and the University of Indiana.
“All of the schools have top journalism programs,” she says.
— By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld