Great As Always

Role Model Starts Pep Rally Tradition


Aylah Brodersen

Junior Paul Koroma freestyles at the Sept. 14 pep rally.

He rushes to eat his lunch so he can ask people how they are doing. He sits by a new student each day on the bus to the Career and Technical Education Center. He runs into the middle of the floor at a pep rally after his name is called over the microphone as excited screams roar out of the gym. The music starts up and he begins to dance and freestyle, the energy of the room soaring up from the students who were once bored. Junior Paul Koroma is well known to the student body for his pep rally performances that capture the attention of the student body. It started during his sophomore year when a previous coach reached out to him to help with the Coyote Clap.

“[I have performed] ever since Coach Laster was here last year at the first pep rally, which is the kick-off,” Paul said.

Since then, Paul has transitioned into what he does now–dancing to music. While he occasionally practices before his performances, sometimes he decides to freestyle when he gets on the floor.

“[At first] I asked for a song that I wanted them to play, but sometimes they choose a song for me that is danceable,” Paul said. “[Then] I just practice and practice until I perfect it.”

Aylah Brodersen
Junior Paul Koroma stands with Coach Timothy O’Brien as he makes announcements during the pep rally on Sept. 14.

Students are engaged more in Paul’s performances more than the fight song, various different skits and other performance at pep rallies where they are found bored and uninterested. Many people say they attend the pep rallies because they want to see his positivity and energy that many students have noticed because of his consistency.

He is unapologetically Paul.”

— Associate Principal Dr. Katey Gray

“Sometimes you try things at pep rallies and they [don’t get a great reception from the crowd] but Paul always gets cheers and claps,” Associate Principal Dr. Katey Gray said. “He is unapologetically Paul. There are a lot of kind students, there are a lot of happy students, but the level of kindness and happiness and comfort in who he is sets him [apart] from so many people. He doesn’t worry about what people think of him, and because of that, because he stays happy and positive, then people started paying attention.”

Another reason students look to Paul in a positive way is because of his catchphrase, “great as always,” which is his response time after time when asked how his day is. He says the phrase came to his mind naturally and he still says it on his bad days.

“I still say ‘[great as always]’ because you [shouldn’t] let your bad days dictate your attitude,” Paul said. “All you have to do is just appreciate the value of life because life is very short and you have to enjoy it while it lasts. You always have to keep your head up in a terrible situation.”

After hearing Paul positively answer in the same way each day, Associate Principal Dr. Katey Gray and Ms. Tonya Francois created a vision of t-shirts with Paul’s face and his catchphrase that were designed by Coach Kelvin Newsome and later bought by 20 teachers and staff to support Paul.

Aylah Brodersen
Associate Principal Dr. Katey Gray wears her ‘great as always’ shirt as she cheers on junior Paul Koroma at the senior pep rally Nov. 9.

“A lot of people find inspirational quotes and they put them on t-shirts or mugs, so [Ms. Tonya Francois and I] talked about how Paul’s ‘Great as Always’ should be on a t-shirt [with] his face,” Gray said.

The shirts have been seen around the school, but most notably at pep rallies. Paul has performed at every pep rally since his sophomore year, but at the beginning of the year, a pep rally fell during second period on a B day when Paul takes the bus for his Career and Technical Education Center class. Students waited in silence and anticipation as Paul’s name was called and disappointment flooded the gym when he never showed up to dance for the crowd and hype the student’s up.

“I felt real bad, terrible because I know everyone was devastated when I was gone and I wish I was there,” Paul said. “It feels great [to perform]. I just like making everyone’s day, being positive and bringing light into the school and into their lives as well.”

Though he did miss one pep rally this year, Paul plans to perform at every pep rally until the last one during his senior year because he says he wants to “positively impact the upcoming [students in every grade level].”

“When he started this year with all the pep rallies, I was super excited for him and I like that the student body embraces him.” Dr. Katey Gray said. “When I see students interact with him, they’re genuinely kind and happy and I think that’s the real-life example of when they say smiles [and happiness] are contagious.

Aylah Brodersen
At the pink out pep rally on Oct. 4, junior Paul Koroma strikes a pose for the student body during his dance performance.

Even though he is well known for his pep rally performances, he also influences the school and its students with every chance he gets.

“He is an example that kids can see of somebody being a good person all the time, [through] the little things,” Gray said. “Whenever I have breakfast duty or lunch duty and I watch him, that’s where I see him making an impact. He will go up to a table and [it will make me] turn around because [he made them] crack up laughing. I think he, in his own one-person

way, spreads smiles and happiness and kindness and I feel like kids are their best versions of themselves around him.”

After high school, he plans to go to a college in Texas and channel his personality into leading college football games in addition to pursuing a career in digital animation.

“I want to be a yell leader [at Texas A&M University] and an animator,” Paul said. “If I put a lot of hard work and effort into animations and add a lot of positivity to them, it will make all the kids around the world a lot happier than they used to be and warm-hearted.”

While Principal Mark Mimms refers to Paul as the ‘Mayor of Heritage’ because of his character and reputation across the student body, Paul refers to himself as more of a role model and a light to people.

“I want everyone to know me for who I am, and [most people] already know who I am,” Paul said. “[I am] a very positive model, a very outgoing person and also a light to this school. [The reason I perform is] because I thought people just needed a little more energy and more light in their life.”