SIKESTON - It's more than cheering at games in black skirts and red sweaters.
It's about friendships, learning leadership skills and showing high school spirit.
Some believe it's the oldest pep club of its kind in Missouri. This year Sikeston Red Peppers celebrates its 75th anniversary.
What's kept it going so long, believes Jane Ann Baker, is the fact that it has become an important part of Sikeston High School. It's turned into a tradition of its own.
In honor of the occasion, several events are being planned for September. There will be a tea at the Depot and a Red Pepper float featuring founding members and early officers in this year's Cotton Carnival parade. A Red Pepper reunion is set for the last weekend in September.
A Red Pepper display of past and present memories will be featured at the Depot and former Red Peppers are encouraged to donate or lend their memorabilia for the exhibit.
"We're particularly looking for mementos from the early years, 1930s-1940s, because that's the time period we're especially going to feature," said Marilyn Grant.
"We're wanting to show when the uniform changes took place such as when the patch went from being flat to puffy and when the officers' uniforms became different from the other Red Pepper uniforms.
"We're also wanting cheerleader uniforms to show how they've changed through the years and snapshots that we could put in our archives and use later. We can't use everything but we'll use as much as we can so we'd like to have a wide variety of things."
Baker, a 1968 graduate of Sikeston High School, said when she was a Red Pepper the organization was the focal point of the students' social life.
"All girls in high school were Red Peppers and involved in the activities," she said. "It was always fun and exciting, you became energized at the sporting events. If we had not been a Red Pepper much of the school spirit would have been lost. It also taught us how to function as a group which helps an individual grow for later times in life."
It is memories like these that Baker and Grant are hoping former Red Peppers will think about and share to make the 75th anniversary something special.
She credits the idea for the celebration to Judy Bowman, Grant, Joan Cowell and Sarah Ponder who are all enthusiastic about what's soon to take place.
"It is such a pleasure to work on this project," Baker said. "I am excited as are so many wonderful women in the Sikeston and surrounding communities. We spread nation-wide and want to contact as many past and present Red Peppers as we can so we will all be home for a wonderful 75th reunion."
Past and present Red Peppers are encouraged to register by going to yahoogroups.com and clicking on Yahoo! Groups. Then search for SHS-Red-Peppers. Already 50-60 individuals have registered.
"Please search your attics, basements, old scrapbooks and clothing such as formals from years gone by," Baker said. "We have one lady who is allowing us to use her Mouton which she wore in the late 1950s. How neat that she held onto it. All help is appreciated and we look forward to a wonderful exciting time."
For more information call Baker at 471-1753 or contact her at email@example.com.