Gunter High School held a pep rally Wednesday to celebrate its football team’s upcoming state championship game. The Tigers are hoping to achieve their 32nd straight victory and a second consecutive 3A Division II state title against Newton at 7 p.m. Thursday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

The GHS cheerleaders and band led the celebration with songs, dances and acrobatic performances. The event was attended by students, parents and members of the community. Gunter Independent School District Superintendent Jill Siler said community support is vital to the district’s culture.

“To see everyone come out from the entire community was great,” Siler said. “We had two special guests including our former Gunter Superintendent Rick Cohagan who served the district for over 30 years. For him to be able to say a few words to the team meant a lot.

“There is a motto that says, ‘Teams to remember play in December’ and we were excited to celebrate Christmas with our other special guest Santa.”

Siler explained GISD Athletic Director Jake Fieszel is the first to say the community and administration support does much to help create the culture that helps the Tigers rise to excellence.

“As a community member myself, it has been a gift for us,” Siler said. “At the end of the day it is those players and coaches and trainers who have done the work to get them there. The community gets the gift to be a part of it.”

In addition to local support, Siler explained nearby communities have been cheering them on as well.

“The other part of the community presence has been watching the other communities rally around us,” Siler said. “We have seen community after community support with Celina putting a banner on their website to different signs around town. The fact that other communities support us means a lot.”

Wednesday was the last school day before the district’s winter break begins. A send-off will take place at 3 p.m. Thursday. Siler said the send-off may not attract as many participants as last year’s event due to the winter break.

“Our volunteer Fire Department and our Police Department will lead the Tigers out with a trail of cars behind them,” Siler said. “Last year was a different experience because when we were going to the state championship everyone was still in school. We had the intermediate campus in Celina as well as admin and leadership from Celina and businesses from Prosper all out for the send-off. This year will be different because campuses will be out of school but we still anticipate a full parade down 289 all the way to Frisco.”

In referring to Gunter ISD’s unique culture, Siler said their motto is TPW (Tough People Win).

“That goes across all of our programs,” Siler said. “That’s academics and from elementary to high school. What it’s saying is our kids work hard and that’s what our expectations are. We are great because our kids work extremely hard and have great coaches.”