TOM BEAN — Gloves and mittens muffled the clapping, so instead they stomped their feet. The cheerleaders danced while Principal Jeff Harvey rapped over the loudspeaker, demonstrating expert command of the lyrics to House of Pain’s 1992 classic, "Jump Around." The collective student body grooved their student bodies; the bleachers shook.

TOM BEAN — Gloves and mittens muffled the clapping, so instead they stomped their feet. The cheerleaders danced while Principal Jeff Harvey rapped over the loudspeaker, demonstrating expert command of the lyrics to House of Pain’s 1992 classic, "Jump Around." The collective student body grooved their student bodies; the bleachers shook.


Was this perhaps the scene at Tom Bean’s Friday night football game against Whitewright? Nope. This was a breast cancer awareness rally, which positivity colored the Friday morning assembly nearly as much as the sea of pink shirts.


"We are here to celebrate today!" said High School Counselor Lorry Royal, emceeing the event. "Not only is this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but it’s also a time to reflect on all of those who have fought the hard fight through any type of cancer. We’re going to win this battle!" Royal shouted, to cheers.


Volunteers handed out dozens of construction paper hearts to the crowd, each containing a student-submitted name of someone they know who has been affected by cancer. A group of more than 50 heart-carrying students lined up on the football field in the shape of the familiar pink ribbon, holding the names above their heads.


"As you can see, there are a lot of hearts out here — a lot," said Royal. "But what you also see are some blank hearts. Those blank hearts represent what we are doing today; we don’t want names on those hearts. We want to fight this evil disease and wipe it out."


While the drill team and cheerleaders performed cheers created specifically for the event, school staff circulated through the crowd, gathering donations, a few dollars at a time, for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the largest breast cancer organization in the country. Joining the pep squad on the field, the senior class in its entirety demonstrated a choreographed routine to the Sara Bareilles tune "Brave." The event concluded with a one-mile march around the track, the paper hearts held high throughout.


When asked to put a specific number on the hearts she had handed out that morning, Royal candidly summed up the reason for the rally.


"Honestly I don’t know how many," she said. "Way too many."