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The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

SH student section celebrates being recognized Top 5 among Orange County schools

Jaimie Chun
Sunny Hills student section decks out in beach attire for a “Surf’s Up” theme and lets out a cheer at the Friday, Aug. 25, football game.

With a simple “USA” theme, Sunny Hills students automatically dressed up in red, white and blue attire or came holding the American flag at the Aug. 31 football game at the Buena Park High School stadium.

The students stood in the stands waving colorful balloons with face paint smeared across their cheeks as they cheered for the players taking on Woodbridge High School.

This crowd of spirited individuals represents the only Fullerton Joint Union High School District [FJUHSD] campus named a Fall 2023 Student Section of the Week under the North Orange County division for the week of Aug. 28.

“I think that our student section is the best in the district because we go all out,” said Associated Student Body [ASB] co-athletics commissioner senior Maddie Moreno, who with Natalia Garibay comes up with the themes for each home football game this season. “I feel like a lot of people come to our games dressed out, and we just get very hyped.”

Principal Craig Weinreich also recognized Lancer Nation for its achievement at the Sept. 12 FJUHSD board meeting.

“It’s been a great start to the year, and our Lancers have enjoyed all sorts of back-to-school activities, fall athletics contests and other various events,” Weinreich said. “In fact, our Lancer Nation student section was already named the Orange County divisional winner in the opening weeks of the season by OC Student Sections.”

The organization the principal was referring to includes adviser Jered Baloloy, a Yorba Linda High School Class of 2022 graduate, and 16 other OC high school students. Each week in the football season, the OC Student Sections’ team hosts a contest on a Sunday using Instagram polls before posting the winners the following Tuesday on @ocstudentsections featuring the most-voted schools in the Central, West and South OC regions.

“No matter if our team is winning or losing, being a part of the student section at the game can be really, really fun,” Moreno said. “Being recognized by the OC Student Sections gives a good reputation for our school, and I can be proud of saying, ‘Yeah, Sunny Hills High School, I go to that school.’”

As part of the voting process, schools submit or are asked to send a photo of their student crowd to the organization through a form on its website, Instagram or email. Results are announced under a category titled People’s Choice with an overall winner for the week and runners-up as divisional champions.

Senior Natalia Garibay hypes up the crowd with a megaphone during the first home football game on Friday, Aug. 25. (Photo by Jaimie Chun)

“Student sections are more than a group of students cheering in the stands; they’re the heart and soul of the school,” Baloloy said. “I think it’s very important to recognize student sections because it’s one of the most special high school experiences when you have your entire school cheering super loud at football games.”

Moreno and Garibay work together to lead the crowd chants and promote a sense of cohesiveness. Besides the shoutout from Aug. 31, their efforts brought the team three past Student Sections of the Week People’s Choice wins during the 2023 winter season and one recognition this school year. 

“As the athletics commissioner with Garibay, we put lots of hard work into everything that we do, especially for the student section,” Moreno said. “Seeing the hard work pay off and seeing everyone enjoying themselves at the game is really rewarding.”

The student-run OC Student Sections program began in 2019 before halting its activities with the COVID-19 pandemic restricting in-person sports games. Baloloy initiated a relaunch in 2021 after realizing the lack of student motivation and leaders to prompt the crowds’ cheers.

“There’s nothing better than the Friday nightlife experience,” he said. “Going into the fall of 2021, I wanted to encourage students to get back into the stands.”

One of his main goals as the adviser of the program was to place students as the first priority rather than administrators and parents, to represent the schools’ games.

“Students are the ones who dedicate the passion to support their teams and display that energy every single game,” Baloloy said. “I think these crowds are super important because at the end of the day, when you have a student section, no matter what sport you’re at, it motivates the athletes to win that game.”

Now, he believes that the ongoing friendly battles among student sections in OC schools help acknowledge the ASB’s dedication and the fans who bring more life onto the field.

“The ASB put hours and hours of work behind the scenes, making posters only to have it thrown away after a two-hour game,” Baloloy said. “I think the ASB and students running the entire show deserve to be recognized not only within the student section but also for their individual work.” 

Student sections are more than a group of students cheering in the stands; they’re the heart and soul of the school.”

— OC Student Sections adviser Jered Baloloy

The adviser emphasizes the importance of unity to bring the community together and foster a memorable Friday night.

“You can have only 40 kids with students who stay involved through the entire game compared to the 120 from the other school that may be across the bleachers,” he said. “At the end of the day, you have those students who are passionate and energetic — that’s all that matters whether you’re from a small school or a big school.”

Baloloy and his team manage school rosters, aid with game promotions and oversee the Instagram account. Students interested in joining the team for the next school year may submit an application located on the OC Student Section’s homepage in April 2024, according to its website.

Weinreich praises the organization for how it has attracted so much interest among students.

“It’s a cool, proud moment for me as a principal to see that we get the recognition that we deserve,” Weinreich said. “Students are able to get involved and try out new things they wouldn’t have done before by being a part of these student sections, and that’s what’s creating a good, lasting high school experience for students.”

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Susie Kim, Web Editor-in-Chief
Entering her final year on staff, senior Susie Kim looks forward to continuing The Accolade's online legacy as the web editor-in-chief. Kim plans on focusing on the frequency of online posting and incorporating more multimedia into stories across each section. After concluding her junior year as the news editor, Kim feels confident in reporting timely news both on and off campus. She is excited to work with this year's staff to continue producing The Accolade's print products. Outside of spending time in the journalism room, Kim likes competing with her Science Olympiad teammates and listening to music.
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