School spirit: is the reward worth the effort?


Photo by Nyomi Fox

Held in the outdoor stadium this year, the fall pep rally brought together students of all grades, many dressed in their designated class color. A minority of students refrained from participating in the spirit, causing them to appear as outcasts to some.

Participation is meaningless

Here we go again, herded into the gym like hogs on slaughter day. The chanting of a thousand students coalesces into a single thunderous voice, an infinite crescendo. A pulsating frenzy conquers the gym, spreading like the flu across the thronging students. And with every triumphant fist pump from Mighty Moo and the Wildcat, the uniform cheering and unanimous passion swell.

There’s a real feeling of unity and togetherness as students are divided up by grade and corralled into four separate corners.

And still the frenzy refuses to cease. All around me students celebrate with ecstasy. But there I am, all alone, out of place and lost. I’m no longer amongst my peers, but amongst aliens. I feel like I don’t belong.

Herein lies the inherent vice of school spirit. What if you’re like me? What if you don’t have school spirit? What if you’re in the overwhelming minority? It’s like being stranded on an island, and all because I don’t understand the fuss with school spirit.
Every so often, I’m confronted by school spirit week. There’s a brief glimmer of hope that maybe this time around the positivity and the spirit of unity will breach my thick hide. But that never happens.

I just don’t understand school spirit. That could be on me. Alternatively, perhaps school spirit isn’t the bastion of unity and positivity we believe it to be.

The consequences have the potential to be dangerous. Excessive school spirit fosters jingoism which, if unchecked, can have disastrous consequences, such as the brawl that broke out a couple of years back at Cabin John Ice Rink. It wasn’t the first incident and it won’t be the last.

Maybe there are better ways to promote inclusivity. The cultural assemblies were a great way to do that. As a diverse community, it is important we be aware and informed of the multitude of cultures, ethnicities and religions which make up our student body. We learn how to be accepting and how to cherish others. We learn nothing from pep rallies. Yet they are mandatory while cultural assemblies are relegated to optional lunchtime shows.

Maybe I’m just bitter and my words should be taken with a pinch of salt. Maybe school spirit is the cause of a few problems. Or maybe its effect on us should be more carefully examined, and my disillusionment with it is totally justified.

Join the excitement
During the school year, spirit weeks are highly anticipated by the majority of the student body. The spirit days, such as Maryland Monday and Woodstock Wednesday, provide people with fun and creative alternatives from their normal attire.The purpose of spirit weeks is to hype people up for the phenomenal event at the end of the week, like dances and pep rallies. Spirit weeks elicit positive energy and allow for students to have fun together amidst the misery of schoolwork. The purpose of going to school is to learn and gain knowledge, but the inclusion of spirit adds an element of enjoyment and entertainment that is often missing in the academic setting. Walter Johnson is a school that encourages the involvement of students, participation in spirit. Without spirit, people would not be able to express their enthusiasm and pride or prosper as much in school.
Others may argue that spirit is a waste of time and pointless\; regardless, it is a part of WJ’s culture. Spirit is optional and is simply intended to encourage students to unite themselves in support of the school and its activities. A big problem with spirit is that if you do not have the materials for the particular day, you have to go to stores or do online shopping, which can be expensive. However when you buy the materials once, you can generally use them in your daily life. In addition, if a spirit day is easy to execute, it will most likely be repeated year after year for the school to dress up as. This year WJ held a spirit sale, selling everything from face paint to flower crowns.The cheap prices from the spirit sale elevated the amount of people that participated in the fall pep rally spirit week. Pep rallies are held three times a year\; for fall sports, winter sports and spring sports. Pep rallies can be overwhelming and cause excessive stress on people because they take people out of their comfort zones.
The overall purpose of spirit is to positively promote the schoolwide activities and events. Many people who dress up in spirit look forward to taking pictures and posting the photos on social media. WJ is an amazing school and spirit is a way to show your dedication to the place where you learn, grow, and make friends for a lifetime. Spirit weeks are not that often, meaning it is not a huge commitment that people need to follow. In the end, spirit is all about showing off your creativity and allows you to make lifelong memories in high school.