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    By Todd Martin

    While raising funds for a spring trip, the Ellison High School Emeralds dance team built some high-profile contacts and life-long memories.

    Ellison senior and Emeralds Captain Sydnee Cassidy said when the three Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders entered the gym in uniform, there was no doubt exactly who they were.

    “It’s really cool,” said Cassidy, who turned 18 Saturday, the day of the team’s camp with the famous cheerleaders. “We see them on TV. They are super good and they are here teaching us dance.”

    What she will remember most, she said, is receiving birthday wishes from the famous performers.

    The Emeralds dance team formed a booster club this year and has a car show and golf tournament planned, as well as the dance camp for children and youth to defray the cost of an upcoming trip and to promote their performances.

    Emeralds Director Jenny Zehr and Booster Club President Valerie Payson expressed excitement that the camp attracted about 75 participants from kindergarten through high school seniors.

    A representative with the Cowboys team confirmed that while the cheerleaders host dance camps periodically at the AT&T Stadium, going to schools out of town is a rarity. In fact, the school fundraiser in Killeen was a first of its kind in Texas.

    The Emeralds are planning to book the second one for next year.

    The three Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, all in their rookie seasons, worked separately with young children and middle school and high school students. Ellison Emeralds dance team members helped and participated.

    The camp included a photo session with the famous guests and a showoff performance for parents.

    Earlier in the week, Ellison senior Karina Diaz Santini, a three-year Emerald dance team member, predicted she would cry when she first met the famous guests. “I cried about 10 times,” she said Saturday.

    Admittedly star struck, she said she found herself shaking with excitement and determined to look her best dancing in front of the cheerleaders she follows on their reality television show and on the field during football games.

    “It’s invigorating to see them here,” she said. “They are so much better up close. They look perfect doing (dance moves).”

    Emeralds Colonel Joselyn Serrano agreed it was an honor to host the world-famous Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders in their own high school gym.

    “It’s amazing,” she said. “It’s the first time this has happened. They are so well known and they are here in Killeen.”

    The cheerleaders shared with campers some of their chants and dance moves, but most impressive to the Emeralds colonel were the leaps.

    “They taught us dances and showed us leaps,” she said. “They are high class – the best of the best. It’s a great honor to host them.”

    Upon graduating from high school, Santini plans to attend the University of Texas and study nursing, and then go on to graduate school in Dallas where she can try out for the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.

    “I’ll remember when they first came in, in uniform,” she said. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’ll remember it always.”

    December 3, 2017

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