Rite Idea: School Spirit Equals War

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A little competition is healthy, but how much is too much?

The compulsive need to be the best class is tearing us apart instead of unifying us. The spirit day that took place the Friday before Homecoming stirred up lots of controversy between the junior and senior classes. What was supposed to be a harmless spirit day ended in Saran Wrapped cars and tearful meetings in the principal’s office. Some competition between classes is acceptable, but we as a school have reached a new low this year. The whole purpose of a spirit day is to unite the school and show that we are spirited as a whole, not to pit classes against one another.

Perhaps this class rivalry is a result of certain classes being favored over others. The class of 2013, for example, is an administration favorite and has been dubbed “the next great class” by Assistant Principal Eric Hutchinson. While this title may make the class of 2013 feel great, this label created resentment, and it’s not limited to seniors. In an interview, Hutchinson said, “If you put a group of freshmen in an auditorium and a group of seniors in another auditorium and asked me which room I would like to walk in, I’m walking into the room of seniors.” So, freshmen now have reason to be bitter, too.

 As a result of this recognition, classes are fighting one another rather than joining together as a school.

The drama between the classes could have been avoided. Instead of setting classes against one another in a color war, the spirit day could have asked all classes to participate in the same theme, minimizing the class competition. The Halloween costume contest raises school spirit without adding underlying tension. Playful competition is fun, but fighting over which class is the best is not. When this color war was introduced, we should have been planning ways to make it the best for the school, not how to dominate our intramural rivals.

School spirit has turned into a war. When the juniors stole the homecoming spirit spotlight by adorning senior halls with green decorations, it caused chaos and people said it disrespected the seniors. Seniors then retaliated at juniors for having school spirit. Saying that the junior class was disrespectful isn’t showing spirit, it is complaining about how much more spirit other people have. But just as being spirited shouldn’t involve putting other classes down or pointing fingers, it shouldn’t involve trashing other classes’ space. 

We are not saying don’t be spirited. Embrace the spirit days and love your graduating class. But come to school completely “blued” or “greened” out because you feel a connection to your school and your classmates, not because you feel a rivalry with another class. Decorate the halls. But don’t trash the ground and cause injury and unnecessary work for the custodial staff. Competition goes beyond offending other classes when people have to worry about their health. Senior Cassie Torrence, who had a serious allergic reaction to juniors’ latex balloons, said, “I think school spirit is lacking on important levels.”

We agree. When we turn spirit days into a competition, we lack spirit on an important level – school unity. “Beating” other classes doesn’t make you the most spirited, finding your pride in your class and in the school as a whole, does.

 A version of this article appeared in print on 21 November 2011, on page 5 of The Shakerite.

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