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'Spirit of Six' Memorial Unveiled At Rapid City Central

Lee Strubinger
South Dakota Public Broadcasting

It’s been just over 50-years since the six cheerleaders from Rapid City High School tragically died in a plane crash as they were coming home from the boys state basketball tournament in the spring of 1968. On Sunday, a new memorial was unveiled at Rapid City Central high school to honor the lives lost five decades ago.

Sue Rivkin-Schick is a former classmate to some of the cheerleaders who lost their lives. She said when she remembers the six girls, she doesn’t just think of them as cheerleaders.

"They were more than that to us and they were a terrific bunch of girls," explained Rivkin-Schick. "At least three of them I started in Kindergarten with them; Brownies, girl scouts, you know, all the way up. To lose them all at once, the way we did, it was devastating."

The six girls who were killed on St. Patrick’s Day of 1968 were Shirley Landstrom, Jan Glaze, Laurene McNutt, Diana McCluskey, Gail Flohr, and Terry Blanton. Also included on the list of those who died that day are cheer coach and teacher Dorothy Lloyd, Pilot Ivan Landstrom, and his wife Mary Landstrom.

This spring, and for the 50th year-in-a-row, the South Dakota Peace Officers Association will present the Spirit of Six award to a cheerleading squad represented at each boys and girls state basketball tournament.

The award is given to a cheer squad who best exemplifies decorum, appearance, and sportsmanship.