West Virginia Elementary Teachers, Inspired By Texas A&M Yell Leaders, Establish Yell For Their Students
In an elementary school gymnasium more than 1,000 miles from Texas A&M University, a sound familiar to Aggies of all ages echoes into the hallway. It’s the sound of yells. These yells sound a bit different than the ones performed at Midnight Yell and are led by much younger voices — but they are unquestionably yells.
Ramage Elementary School in Danville, West Virginia, has recently become home to its own Ramage Rams Yell Leaders. The Aggie Spirit made its way into Ramage’s gym thanks to its two physical education teachers, Deron Godby and Brandon Burns.
“I was watching College GameDay on ESPN around the beginning of October, I believe,” Godby said. “They said, ‘let’s take it out to College Station’ and I saw a guy in all white standing in front of everybody going ‘beat the hell out of South Carolina.’”
The Texas A&M Yell Leaders is the official spirit organization of the university, comprised of five students who are elected by the student body each year. The Yell Leaders use a variety of hand signals called “pass backs” to direct the crowd to yell in support of the Aggies at athletic and other university events. The Yell Leader tradition at Texas A&M dates to 1907, when the university was an all-male military academy.
Godby, who is not an Aggie and so was unfamiliar with the university’s traditions, said he rewound the ESPN broadcast and rewatched that clip 9 or 10 times. “I called Brandon and I said, ‘Hey we gotta get involved in this somehow.’”
So they started working on bringing the Ramage Rams Yell Leaders to life.
Burns proposed the idea of incorporating yells into a field day, with the plan of having a school-wide yell practice followed by a yell competition between the third-, fourth- and fifth-graders.
Crafting The First Yell
Unsure how to start their journey to making Ramage Yell a reality, they enlisted the help of Jordan Richardson, program manager for the Aggie Yell Leaders.
With Richardson’s help, they crafted Ramage’s school yell:
Fight ‘em, Rams!
This yell, along with others that are still in the works, will be led by five fifth-graders who will serve as the Ramage Yell Leaders on field day this spring.
When Texas A&M Head Yell Leader Trevor Yelton heard about what was brewing at Ramage, he loved it. “This is more than just teaching them how to do yells,” he said. “It is about the spirit that Ramage Elementary has and the passion that each student obtains within them to be proud Ramage Elementary Rams.”
The Value Of School Spirit
For Godby and Burns, the addition of yells to their P.E. class means so much more than a way to hype up their students. Ramage Elementary is one of around a dozen West Virginia schools participating in the GameChanger program, which aims to build school environments that prevent opioid and other drug use before it starts.
“Our area has been hit pretty hard by the opioid crisis, some of our kids have had tough goes,” Godby said. “For most of them, our class is their Little League baseball or buddy league basketball.” Godby and Burns said they want students to leave their class knowing they have someone who cares about them, and to have an absolute blast.
“Our goal is to send them back to class and have them in trouble because they’re so crazed,” Burns joked. “Because a lot of them, that’s all they get in the day as far as activity with other kids.”
While practicing the yells is a lot of fun, that’s not what stood out to Godby on that Saturday morning watching College GameDay. “I mean, just that spirit and pride [the Yell Leaders] take in their school,” he said. “We would like to give our kids some of that. The self-esteem and pride that comes with being a part of something.”