BUENA VISTA, Va. (WDBJ7) August 30 is the first day of high school football in Southwest Virginia and WDBJ7 kicked off the season with its annual Friday Football Extra Mornin' Pep Rally in Buena Vista.
Members of the football team, band, and cheer squad arrived at the field before the sun was even up, but as the sun continued to rise so did their energy, and they didn't hold back when it came to letting everyone how pumped they are for their first game of the season against their rivals, Rockbridge County.
Parry McCluer High School is a school with deep history; it's nearly 100 years old.
"In the county here there used to be 4 schools," the school's athletic director, Mike Cartolaro, said. "Then in 1992 there was a consolidation and three of the schools went in to become Rockbridge County. But Parry McCluer kept its identity and we're proud of that."
Both on the field and in the classrooms, there's a lot for the school to be proud of.
"This is our first year being accredited. We were accredited with conditions last year so we're very excited. But we can't celebrate that too long. We've got to keep moving forward," Principal Melissa Cobb said.
She has a progressive vision for the school that starts as soon as students walk through those doors.
"I want students to want to run to the door to get here, not run out at 3 o'clock," she laughed.
Through strong student-teacher relationships and active learning, Parry McCluer wants to prepare students for 21st century careers.
"The job market is changing, as you know, so we need to teach for the jobs of the future and not the jobs of the past," Cobb said. "And that includes a lot of technology in our curriculum."
The school isn't just proud of its new academic status. It's also proud of its athletics. This year Parry McCluer's battlefield is ready to train the next tidal wave of Blue.
"We lost 16 seniors last year so we're going to be young," head football coach Mark Wheeler said. "But the kids are working hard and we're going to try to do the best we can to improve and win some this year."
And every point won and lost on the freshly-planted football field will be tallied on the new LED scoreboard.
"The name Parry McCluer has been for a long time mentioned with football," Cartolaro said. "We've won five state championships in football, so a lot of pride. And the facility upgrade is to continue that pride and the blue spirit. And you'll here , 'Go Blue' quite often here."
"Go Blue" will also be shouted from the gym's bleachers.
"Washington and Lee told us they were tearing down Turner Gym and they said you can come into the gym and get whatever you want," Cartolaro said. "Make a long story short, we go their stadium seats out."
And as if those projects weren't enough, the school also underwent a lot of landscaping, clearing out the bushes around the Coach Bobby Williams memorial and adding rock beds around the school.
Principal Cobb said all the renovations are there to foster students' pride in their school and encourage them to take ownership of what it means to be a fighting blue
"This is a special place to be," she said. "It just means we're a family and we talk about bleeding blue and just having that pride and wanting to give back to their community."
"The work ethic is what I learned here in this town," Cartolaro said. "You get up and if you're a student, you do your best and if you're working, you do your best. and athletically you do your best."
The Parry McCluer Fighting Blues take on the Rockbridge County Wildcats at home, Friday, August 30 at 7 p.m.
WDBJ7's Friday Football Extra Mornin' Pep Rally continues all football season long. Next week, September 6, the Mornin' team is paying the Craig County Rockets a visit.
Watch WDBJ7 Mornin' every Friday morning from 6-7 a.m. for all the pep rally fun!
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