EAHS, St. Amant revive annual pep rally

Wade McIntyre
Seconds after learning that St. Amant won the 2008 Spartan/Gator Shout Out, students at the school erupt in celebration during the event Thursday night at the old LeBlanc’s Payless store on Airline Highway and South Burnside Avenue in Gonzales. The event, which serves as a pep rally for the schools before their annual football game, returned after a four-year hiatus. For more on the football game, see Sports.

A rejuvenated Shout Out cheering contest between St. Amant and East Ascension high schools took up where it left off after a hiatus of about four years.

The event Thursday evening in the old LeBlanc’s Payless parking lot at Airline Highway and South Burnside Avenue was loud and crowded – noisy enough to bring back the muse of previous events, and packed with hundreds of kids and adults eager for the school spirit shouting match to return.

When the yelling died down, St. Amant was declared the winner based on decibel measurements showing its students .3 of a decibel louder than EA shouters, and received the coveted “Spirit Stick” for its efforts.

James LeBlanc, a St. Amant graduate and co-organizer of this year’s event, clutched the spirit stick as happily as if he were still a student.

“We are just ecstatic,” he said. “The spirit stick goes to Gatorland.”

LeBlanc said Gator fans were also in possession of the Spartan mascot, which he said was pilfered earlier, and would take “beautiful pictures” of the statue and the stick for posterity.

On a more serious note, LeBlanc described the inaugural return as “great and a total success. I’m so excited with the crowd and the turnout.”

Another St. Amant graduate, and co-organizer of the first Shout-Out, Jody Elisar, was equally pleased. He and James ”Stump” Marchand were the original organizers of the Shout-Out tradition that raised over $200,000 for the two schools before the tradition lapsed.

“It’s back by popular demand,” Elisar said. “People have been wanting us to bring it back.”

Elisar, the reigning World Champion Jambalaya Cook, along with EA and St. Amant boosters, cooked three big pots of jambalaya for fundraising efforts.

This years fundraising included a golf tournament, and T-shirt and cold drink sales. Organizers announced Friday $8,000 had been raised for each school.

At the Shout Out, SAHS Principal Steve Westbrook and EAHS Principal Randy Watts helped work the crowd up for the main event.

“It’s really great to see these two great communities come out to the see the greatest rivalry in high school sports in the state,” Westbrook said.

The St. Amant principal closed his talk with just two words, “Go Gators!”

Watts told the crowd students at the two schools were the best in the land.

“A lot of people who put this event on played on the field,” he said. “Others would give anything to say that they had.”

He told the students to always respect the rivalry, respect the community and respect the schools.

School Board member Harold Jarreau, sporting a St. Amant cap, demurred during the cheering match when asked which school he wanted to win the Shout Out.

“I’m just glad to see the friendly rivalry,” he said with a smile. “This rivalry has never gotten ugly.”

An unidentified St. Amant High School supporter waves a flag with the letters “STA” in the air while waiting for the Shout Out to begin Thursday evening