WAXAHACHIE

Boston the Brave, the Howard Junior High mascot, became the only middle school student in Waxahachie to make an all-American team, scoring her the opportunity to perform at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

She now needs a little help to get to the big game.

McKenna Stracener attended the Universal Cheerleaders Association camp with 20 other middle and high schoolers over the summer and competed in the mascot category. McKenna was the only middle school student to put her routine to the test.

“I practiced in my room that night for an hour or two because I hadn’t done the routine since April or March,” McKenna elaborated. “So, I practiced and practiced, and my cheer team watched me and then I tried out the very next day.”

In the routine, she raised spirit through green and white signs, danced to a mix of songs and finished the performance by proudly lodging the Waxahachie ISD flag into a rock. McKenna admitted to having some professional help with creating the routine by Billy Smith, a former Texas Tech University mascot.

She had three nerve-wracking hours before she heard the final results. But, McKenna affirmed her confidence.

“I was excited that I was the only one that wanted to try out and made it,” McKenna expressed.

To make the Howard Junior High team was an event all in itself. McKenna relayed how she tried out as mascot her seventh-grade year and didn’t make the cut. More motivated than ever, she excelled her eighth-grade year and made the Braves cheer team as the mascot, Boston the Brave. McKenna thanked the Waxahachie High School mascot, Madison Zandt, for giving her pointers before tryouts.

“It was very exciting that I made it and can make an impact in other people’s lives,” McKenna expressed.

BAKING FOR ORLANDO

To fulfill her destiny and perform at the Citrus Bowl, McKenna needs to raise $5,000 for travel and housing expenses. The necessary money has motivated McKenna to sell baked goods and, over the first three weeks, has profited over $1,600.

“This would be a huge honor to go. So, I started selling pans of brownies,” McKenna said.

She sells the homemade brownies for $10 a pan and the sugar and chocolate chip cookies run from $1.50 to $3, depending on size and decoration. Chocolate chips cookies also sell by the dozen for $5.

So far, she has sold the baked goods to family, friends, churches and her parents’ co-workers. The success of her sales has fueled her business plan. She even invested a portion of the profits into a baking class so her products would be more appealing.

Now, she is creating cookies designed as dream catchers, the iconic “W” for Waxahachie with an arrow through it and teepees. She has even created some back-to-school cookies that consist of apples and pencils.

Her grandmother, Belinda Mahone, shared how she stumbled upon McKenna creating a spreadsheet of her previous and future sales. Belinda then took the time to show her the shortcuts in Excel to master the business plan.

Through the entire experience of making the all-American team and motivating herself to raise funds to perform in Orlando, she’s gained more confidence and responsibility with her small business.

“It’s important for me to go because I might not get this opportunity again. I decided I’m going to give it a shot to raise the money and if I don’t, I know it’s okay because at least I tried. You never know if you don’t try,” McKenna expressed.

AN EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME

Other than representing her school in front of thousands in person and on camera, McKenna has another unique opportunity she’d like to fulfill while on the Orlando trip.

Two years ago, the Stracener family stayed at the Give the Kids a World Village after her younger brother, Sage, was granted his wish from Make-A-Wish Foundation. Now, the family wants to return the favor and volunteer at the village before the bowl game.

“We thought if we go a day early we could go volunteer and spend a day blessing families that got to bless us when we were there when Sage was so sick,” said Ami Stracener, McKenna’s mother.

Community service is essential to the McKenna, and since 2014, she has racked up over 800 hours of volunteer time. She is heavily involved with her church, Vertical Church in Ovilla, and has raised donations for children hospitals, the Miracle League, and even cleaned up after a tornado.

She also does competitive cheer at Liberty Cheer in Midlothian and volunteered with Justice, the special needs team that Sage cheers on.

Community service is important to her, “because I get to make an impact in different people’s lives.” And now, McKenna also gets to influence others as Boston the Brave raising school spirit.

If interested in purchasing homemade baked goods, Facebook message Ami or call/text her at 214-924-4610. Also, a Facebook group was established under the name MJ Creations. Orders can be placed there as well.

She also has a GoFundMe to raise money, https://www.gofundme.com/5u9rzr4.

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450