Wednesday, October 22, 2014

School Spirit

Photo by Stephanie Smelyansky
I felt slightly bombarded by crepe streamers and overly-revealing togas last week. Everything was in the name of good fun however because it was homecoming week. It was that archetypal high school spirit fest that unites the entire student body via spirit days, the pep rally, the parade, the football game, and the dance.

Except there was no football game.

Now I’m not that super peppy person that goes to every football game and sits in the student section amidst the sweaty mob of my peers, but even I was a tad upset about the lack of the football game. For me, it’s always been the football game that’s been the most exciting aspect of homecoming rather than the dance or the pep rally. There’s no stress about buying shoes, or figuring out who to vote for for the queen’s court. The football game has always been something I could just enjoy with my friends in the marching band section of the bleachers.

What I loved most about the football game was that it was the one time the entire school’s student body felt united. We aren’t split up into grades at the game like we are at the pep rally. The student section is too dense for cliques to mark their own territory. The football game forces the student body to actually act as one body and not several smaller entities that enjoy the walls of my high school. I was afraid we’d lose that feeling of unity with losing the football game and maybe it’s just my overly deep analysis of homecoming but I feel like we did lose something without the football game. For instance, the marching band was doing a half time show on the field as if we did have a football game and in the middle of it we hear a “freshman suck” chant start. I saw some cliques start sitting in new spots, away from the student section, because there weren’t community spectators there to take up those seats. And in the week leading up to the pep rally and the dance, I’ve never seen fewer people dress up for spirit days. Where was the school that prided itself on being one community?

I’ve realized over the past week that school spirit is a large formative part of my high school experience; it’s the only thing I’ve shared in common with the jocks, the popular kids, the bandies, and the mathletes all at once in a "The Breakfast Club" sort of way. Regardless of clique, ethnicity, or personality, school spirit is unavoidable at my school. No matter where I went at my school, I always felt like I was part of a community. Before, I thought that the community consisted of the select group of peers I interact with outside of class. Now, I realize that the community is the entire school because the entire students body determines the cooperative attitude of the school. When the source of our homecoming spirit, the football game, was taken away, the student body lost a reason to look out for one another, to care about everybody and in turn it descends into Mean Girls-esque clique warfare.

School spirit is that cliche, love-it-hate-it element that in a way is universal to the American high school experience. Without school spirit, I feel like students miss out on feeling like part of a community at a time when they need that feeling most, which is maybe why school spirit is such an archetypal element in media aimed at teens. School spirit is the pacifist element that reminds students that we’re all just teens going through the same roller coaster ride together, so we might as well enjoy it together too.

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