KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – An extracurricular group at Powell High School gives students with special needs the ability to shine.

In 2010, a group of Powell High cheerleaders saw an all-inclusive squad at a competition and thought it would be a great idea to bring to Powell. Thus, the Panther Peps was created. Led by the varsity cheerleaders, the Panther Peps practice every Thursday to get ready for the big games. They perform during the third quarter of every home football game and at halftime during the girls basketball season.

Tami Smith, a special education teacher at Powell, said that the support the Peps has received over the years is more than she could have ever wished for. She emotionally reflected on the bonds that have been formed because of the Peps, and how this group gives more students an opportunity to have those special high school moments.

“When they take the field on Friday nights, the student section literally goes wild chanting their names. It’s just phenomenal how our school has changed. There’s very little instances of people bullying our students. They look after and take care of each other. [The Peps] are a part of Powell High School. They’re not just students who attend here, but they are a part of Powell High School,” said Smith.

You can watch the Panther Peps as they cheer on the Powell football team throughout the season. You can always expect WATE 6 On Your Side to provide the best coverage of local high school sports. You can find game scores and highlights on the WATE Sports page, and you can watch Friday Frenzy at 11:14 p.m. every Friday throughout the football season.