Spirits are high in the Panther Nation
By Lance Catchings
Senior Rachel Fletcher knew two years that she wanted to help boost school spirit at Liberty Hill High School, but initially she wasn’t sure how to do it. She and a friend came up with the idea of Panther Nation and took it to the administration.
“I was one of the people who helped create the club and went to the principals to help first start Panther Nation,” Fletcher said.
“My freshman and sophomore year we noticed not everyone was collectively in sports, but we all wanted to support our sports. We thought by decorating we could come together as a community. We help the football moms in the locker room or if any of the other sports need help we’ll help them, too. We are like the catch-all club to go to. We are more sports based than anything and that is basically what our club is.”
Fletcher, who has served as club president for two years, said the main idea of the club was to help bring the student body together.
“We wanted to create a more fun-filled spirit day,” she said. “We wanted to get everyone together since we are small town. We told them we wanted to help bring our student community together and have everyone be more spirited. Since we have started our club, we feel the overall school has been even more supportive of sports.”
The first year of Panther Nation there were a lot of unknowns, but in its second year everything has gone smoothly.
“This year has gone easier and smoother than last year,” she said. “It helped a lot this year knowing what we were doing and being able to prepare for it. Mrs. (Emily) Pirtle is our sponsor now and she has helped us so much. We are planning ahead, and people are able to contact us ahead of time if they need help with something, which has been really good.”
Panther Nation can be found at volleyball and football games supporting their classmates.
“You can find us in the student section, if you are looking from the visitor’s side we are on the bottom left,” she said.
“This year we have had a lot more people come. Our entire student section was full for the first football game and last year we only filled half. I believe we have helped our student section and participation grow and the spirit of the school grow.”
This Friday night is Homecoming and the Panthers will host Pflugerville Connally. Panther Nation has some fun things planned for the Friday night football game. Fletcher is hoping to include more freshmen and sophomores to the club before the school year ends.
“This Friday is our Homecoming so we decided to let each class from the high school decorate a different part of the school from freshmen to seniors,” she said.
“As people help with that and they enjoy it we can say come join Panther Nation. Most people in Panther Nation are seniors and next year we graduate. We want to recruit the younger grades, so it can continue once we leave. We appreciate everyone and welcome everyone that wants to join.”
Senior Cassidy Franklin said since she joined she has thoroughly enjoyed her time as a member of Panther Nation.
“I am in a study hall for Mrs. Pirtle’s class and I first learned about Panther Nation there,” she said. “Rachel told me about it and it sounded nice, so I joined through her.
“We meet every Thursday after school to make signs and paint and color them. Then we go to the locker room and hang up the signs and decorate around the school. It’s been a great experience and I enjoy it a lot,” Franklin said. “We get all the grade levels excited for the football games and all sporting events overall. The student section is very energized every Friday. We bring streamers and water and it is a really good time for all the classes to spend together.”
Ashton Knight is the vice president of Panther Nation and she is proud of the opportunity to support her school and classmates through the club.
“I like being a part of Panther Nation,” Knight said. “I like decorating and being there Thursday nights to get ready for all the Friday activities. This year we are a lot more organized and know what we are doing. It is fun to make the foyer look cool at our school and a great way to spend time with your classmates.”
Knight, like many seniors, is excited for this week being Homecoming.
“This year we are doing class wide decorating, which is a cool thing. Each class from freshmen to seniors is decorating one portion of the school. We are excited to involve everyone and hopefully it will become a Homecoming tradition for our school.”
Panther Nation will be out in full force to support the Lady Panthers volleyball team this Friday against Burnet and the football team as they take on Pflugerville Connally.