Spirit Week

Valeri Dodds

Rewind to two years ago: at 7:45 a.m., you walk through the south wing doors on the morning of Spirit Night and the halls are filled with red and blue. Streamers are hanging from the ceiling, music is blasting, and an overall energetic vibe is felt all throughout the school. This was my very first experience of the beautiful, chaotic, and just plain fun spirit week.

Fast forward to the present: I am now a junior and have experienced five spirit weeks (including fall and winter) and it seems to me that each time the celebratory week rolls around, there are new rules and limitations as to what we can do, leading to a lack of school spirit and participation.

Changes within the last three years have declined the excitement surrounding these moments in high school where the lasting memories are made. The 50 percent decrease in annual pep assemblies, removal of the benches, rules against decorating the hallways, and even the restriction for each class to choose their own theme for Spirit Night has changed the overall dynamics of the week. Now many students choose not to participate in the dress up days, and some are skipping out on the crowning ceremony during King & Queen of Courts.

The whole purpose of spirit week is to promote school spirit and give students a break from the everyday routine. We are given these weeks to have fun even in the midst of normal school activities, and it makes for a richer high school experience that goes beyond the classroom.

These weeks are a chance for the student body and faculty/staff to come together and have fun in unity. In the relaxed and spirited atmosphere, students get the chance to connect with teachers and administrators in a fun and unique way, rather than the typical balancing act between authority and rebellion.. When staff participate in games versus candidates, or surprise the entire school with a secret dance, there’s a special connection that can’t happen any other time of the year. Yet, even that is being threatened as the district recently discussed banning teachers from participating in physical games versus students because of the insurance liability it can cause with potential injuries.

I think we have to go back to the purpose of spirit weeks and do everything we can to increase school morale and pride in Shawnee Heights through these celebrations. Instead of the answer always being, “No,” the answer could be, “Let’s figure out a way to make this work.” I think if club sponsors, administrators, and student leaders were willing to come together and focus on increasing school spirit, we could come up with compromises and new ways to build memories at our school.

Since we have decreased the amount of pep assemblies that we get each year, a bigger pep assembly at the end of Spirit Week with skits by the basketball teams, games with candidates and staff, and even door prizes for the most spirited students could potentially help pump students up and get more people to come to the crowning ceremony at the football or basketball game. Perhaps having designated hallways or sections of the school for each class to decorate could be reinstated, with an agreement that a student-lead cleaning crew would take care of the mess at the end of the week is a potential negotiation. Going back to all of the old traditions isn’t what I’m looking for, but making new traditions that will lead to memories with my class should be a priority rather than a drag.