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Parents, students organize after athletic programs cut in Lenape Regional School District

MEDFORD, N.J. - Burlington County parents are concerned that their children’s school activities could be cut to save money and student athletes are devastated.

Meanwhile, gymnastics parents are organizing to keep their girls on the mat.

Cellphone video shows Alayna Cottone participating in the sport she has loved for about five year. She is a junior at Shawnee High School, but her future with gymnastics there now is uncertain.

"I was really upset. It broke my heart. I know it broke my coaches’ heart and all my teammates’ heart," said Alayna.

Students say they learned that the Lenape Regional School District is cutting gymnastics, bowling and the ROTC program because of budget issues.

"There was kind of talk around it, but we didn't actually think that it would happen and then it just happened," said Alyana.

Parents say it is affecting gymnastics programs at all four high schools in the district including Seneca, Lenape and Cherokee, where Riley Ulrich is a freshman and has 13 years in the sport. She loves doing it the most for her school.

"The team is one of the first times I had fun because club is so much different. It is all competitive. There is no team aspect and this is all team. It is team bonding. It is competitions with your team," said Riley.

Wednesday night, parents organized a community meeting at the VFW in Medford.

"Michael is helping me to lead this effort to save high school gymnastics, but it's going to take a community effort for the board to hear us," said Marisa Groves, who led the meeting.

"On Monday this week the assembly and senate passed a bill to restore 45 percent of the initial $4.7 million that Lenape was cut. The governor signed the bill yesterday and so now the Board of Education should get their revised budget in the next day or so," said Groves.

They hope gymnastics will be reinstated.

"We've always loved this sport since we were young and we aren't really being heard by our administration as much as we'd like to be," said Mya Groves, a Shawnee High School gymnast.

Some of the parents say they are scheduled to meet with the athletic director of their children’s school Thursday.

FOX 29 contacted the school district Wednesday afternoon and are waiting to hear back.