WJ’s largest controversy: The Drum

Jillian Ward

More stories from Jillian Ward


From left: Seniors JP Rakis, Alejandro Linares and Sofia Orezzoli muster up some energy to hype up the crowd before kickoff. Drumless, they still were able to succeed in doing so.

Sha-la-la-la-la-la, oh-no Walter J, admin has taken the beloved drum away for two football games in a row, will it ever come back? As a means of attempting to hype up the Madcow student section, a drum is used by either seniors JP Rakis, Alejandro Linares or Sofia Orezzoli to engage the crowd in a chant. The drum has been used traditionally by the previous seniors leading the student section, but students have run into problems with the usage of the drum this fall.

After a controversial stripping of the drum ignited a fire within the crowd at the Whitman game, students were excited and hopeful to see the drum back in action at our first home game against QO. Ready to cheer on the team in their battle against the Cougars, Linares bent down to lift the drum from its resting spot beneath him, the crowd lifted their hands ready for the chant, then boom. Assistant Principal Terry Heintze removed the drum from underneath Linares, stating that he was not allowed to have it and he’d have to ask Principal Jennifer Baker whether or not he could use it. The drum had been confiscated without clear reasoning for why it could not be used. As the entire crowd of students “boo’d” Heintze away, Linares stood incredibly confused and frustrated by this happening two Fridays in a row.

“I have yet to be given a clear and reasonable explanation as to why we can’t have the drum. It has been such a huge part of our student section traditions and to have it being taken away from us after the hardest year of our lives is outrageous. It’s just a damn drum,” Linares said.

Although Rakis was not present at the QO game, he was at the Whitman game where the drum was first confiscated. After hearing about the incident during the QO game, Rakis was infuriated about the actions of admin and is confused in the same manner as Linares about why the drum is being taken away. He watched the grades of seniors before him bang the drum with great pride and spirit, and hoped to do the same his senior year.

“Considering I watched my brother and his friends in 2019 be able to use the drum without any issues, it makes me angry and upset that admin is now deciding to take action on something that is just harmless fun. The sole purpose of the drum is to help lead students in supporting our peers on the field, so I’d like someone to at least explain why that is so bad,” Rakis said.

On behalf of the student body, Rakis and another senior, Becca Scherr, went to Assistant Principal Jeff Leaman on September 24 to advocate for the usage of the drum and try to gain an understanding as to why it had been confiscated.

“Mr. Leaman said many of us are trying to find a loophole but it just isn’t going to work. We aren’t going to get the drum,” Scherr said.

During the discussion, Leaman told Rakis and Scherr that they could potentially figure something out to make a compromise. This sparked some thought into their heads, causing an aha moment in Leaman’s office for Rakis.

“The idea was to find Ms. Morris who is in charge of the pep band. I wanted to tell her what chant we were attempting to do with the drum, and see if she would allow us to utilize her drummers for the chant,” Rakis said.

Leaman okayed this idea, sending Rakis and Scherr on their way to discuss with Morris. When speaking to Morris, she told them that she felt bad that the students could not use their own drum, but was happy to allow Rakis and Scherr to talk to her drummers and find a way to make this happen for them and the rest of the student section.

“All the students are supposed to turn around and face the pep band up on the set of bleachers above us. Alejandro and I are gonna walk up there and stand with one of the drummers named Matt. The drummers will wait as Sofia and the rest of the senior section gets everyone to turn around and the drummers would hit the drum once and everyone would clap. The drum hits and claps progressively get louder and faster and if it works that will hopefully be how we can do the chant,” Rakis said.

At the game that night, Rakis communicated to the students the conversations he had earlier in the day, and told them what the plan was for the drum chant. At the conclusion of the first half, the student section did just as instructed. They turned around, faced the pep band and followed the beat of the drum. Although this is not what all the students had hoped for, Rakis found a way to incorporate “the drum,” something that has been so important to the student section for years now.

“Hopefully we are able to continue doing things this way and the students like what we have come up with. I think it worked out fine and will only get better as the games continue and people get used to the new way we are doing things,” Rakis said.