West High cheerleader is a friend to everyone

2013-05-23T00:15:00Z 2014-08-25T07:35:21Z West High cheerleader is a friend to everyoneBy ROB ROGERS rrogers@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

When Madison Quammen reached eighth grade at Riverside Middle School, she decided it was time to take a stand. 

A boy in one of her classes had been constantly picked on by one group of kids for the usual middle school reasons — not wearing the right clothes, not sporting the right hairstyle, not growing up in the right part of town.

She stood up for the boy and put his tormentors in their place, bringing the rest of the class along with her by encouraging them to "clap for courage." 

"Yeah, I don't know where that came from," she said with a laugh.

But looking back, she believes the experience changed her. And defined who she would become in high school.

"She's that person," said David Spring, her school counselor at West High. "She's the type of kid who's gonna befriend a new student or a different student."

It catches people off guard, he said, because she's a cheerleader.

Quammen acknowledges that cheerleaders sometimes carry that "mean girls" reputation. In fact last year, her history teacher pulled her aside and jokingly told her that she was going to give cheerleaders a bad name. 

But for Quammen, befriending those around her and showing kindness to her peers is the right thing to do. 

And it shows in her demeanor. 

"She's approachable, down to earth," Spring said. 

Spring described Quammen as confident in who she is so that she's not afraid to make a new friend with whomever. He'll be sad to see her go, but he wishes her well. 

Quammen graduates from West on Sunday and as she looks to that next step, she's excited for what's ahead. She'll attend the University of Montana in the fall and study pre-med, possibly continuing on with the radiology program at the University of Washington.

She'll take good memories with her, but she's cautious about holding too much onto the past. She's decided to room with a stranger at UM rather than a friend. 

All that's left now is summer and preparing to leave home. She says her mom isn't ready to let her go, but Quammen can feel that pull to get out into the world and explore. 

"I'm just ready to go for it," she said. 

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