Columbus Charter School students win 3rd place National Cheer Title!

Columbus Charter School students win 3rd place National Cheer Title! CCS-cheer

Whiteville—The RBA Vikings Jr. Midget cheer squad from Columbus Charter School has been named third in the nation.

What’s more? This squad was formed only two years ago. The squad is comprised of 22 students from Columbus Charter School ages 10-13. Last week, they joined more than 420 squads from across the country in Orlando, Florida for the Pop Warner National Championships broadcasted by ESPN 3.

The squad achieved a third place finish, as well as a nomination for the competition-wide Spirit of Sport Award—the competition’s “Miss Congeniality” equivalent. This award ultimately went to a squad from Columbus Charter School’s sister campus, Charter Day School in Leland.

Columbus Charter School and Charter Day School are identically-operated sister schools  managed by The Roger Bacon Academy, Inc. (RBA), which sponsors the schools’ Pop Warner athletic teams. As public charter schools, the schools do not receive funding for facilities and athletic programs, among other things. The cheer program is self-supported through donations and volunteers.

In addition to the Spirit of Sport Award, a squad of Charter Day School students won its fourth consecutive National Championship. Another Charter Day School squad competing in a different division achieved an impressive second-place finish. A squad established only last year and including students from both Charter Day School and Columbus Charter School achieved a fifth-place national title.

In sum, at 2015 Nationals, a total of four squads of students from Columbus Charter School or Charter Day School competed and brought home first, second, third and fifth place finishes. The RBA Viking cheer program has earned seven first-place National Champion titles since 2011.

The common denominator for these programs’ mutual success is Head Coach, Jean Lafave. Lafave started the program at the Leland campus 2005 and successfully replicated at our Whiteville campus in 2014.

An unpaid volunteer, Lafave leads both programs with the support of volunteer assistant coaches—one of whom includes her daughter, Abby, an alumna of a former National Champion squad.

Lafave states, “Unlike other teams, we have never had a gym. We practice in the heat, the cold, and the rain. Our athletes do not come from all-star gyms and our coaches have no previous coaching experience, as they are simply moms and dads who want to spend extra time with their daughters. Many of our families fundraise all season to make it to this competition. We write our own choreography—my daughter Abby and I—at the dinner table or during family time. Our athletes’ hard work and dedication shines through despite all of these circumstances.”

Parent and Coach, Bret Tharp, states “Our program has a standard of excellence that athletes, coaches, and parents expect, and once again we have attained that excellence. The RBA Viking cheer program is the most accomplished Pop Warner program in the nation.”

Assistant Coach, Abby Lafave, offered, “During my eight years as an RBA Viking Cheerleader at Charter Day School, not only did I meet lots of friends and participate in a sport that I love, I earned over $4,500.00 in scholastic scholarships.”

At Charter Day School, the Pop Warner organization has awarded over $12,000.00 in scholarships to student athletes since 2005.  Last year at Columbus Charter School, the first-year Pop Warner program awarded $750.00 in scholarships to student athletes.

In addition to success in cheerleading, Columbus Charter School and Charter Day School also provide the highest-scoring elementary and middle schools on state End-of-Grade tests in their respective counties, Columbus and Brunswick.  Columbus Charter School is also the highest-scoring school in neighboring Whiteville City and Bladen County school districts.

The schools are public, free, K-8 charter schools that any student may attend. Their family of identical public charter schools also includes elementary schools Douglass Academy in Wilmington and South Brunswick Charter School near Southport.

Coach Lafave organizes “cheer clubs” at these campuses for elementary students.

In addition to Lafave’s cheer programs, each of the four schools in the family offers a classical curriculum including, among other things, Latin, cursive, and composition. Open enrollment for the tuition-free public schools will run the month of January, 2016. To enroll online or learn more, please visit

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