“One! We are the Raiders! Two! A little bit louder! Three! I still can’t hear you!”
This common school cheer is supposed to finish with “Four! More! More! More!” and then begin again in a perpetual declaration of spirit.
However, according to a lunchtime survey, most students are not committed to school spirit and only dress up for spirit days when they remember to.
The survey showed that many students have varying opinions of what school spirit is. How can school spirit unify Shaker if students can’t agree on its definition?
Freshman Saeesha Pimplikar’s definition of spirit involves community. “Spirit is being proud of your community and showing it,” she said.
School spirit directly affects junior Rohit Kumar’s opinion of a school. Kumar defined school spirit as “an individual’s way of representing his or her school in a positive way.”
Solon High School freshman Elise August believes school spirit adds positively to the atmosphere of her school. “Spirit is showing pride for your school and its accomplishments.”
While many Shaker students agree spirit requires enthusiasm and a positive attitude, they display it differently and for different reasons. It depends on how much they participate in extracurricular activities and sports, and how much pride they have in academic accomplishments.
Senior Josh Schultheiss believes school spirit is important, but that many Shaker students lack it. “[Spirit] doesn’t appeal to the vast majority of students,” he said.
Senior Student Council members Ana Sinicariello and Juliet Bellin-Warren are loaded with school spirit, but both agree they would still be spirited if they weren’t in Student Council. “If it was possible, I would make school spirit mandatory,” said Sinicariello, senior class secretary and former head of spirit. “School spirit increases school unity.” Promoting school spirit by participating in more than one academic and extracurricular activity deepens her appreciation of Shaker.
At other schools, students seem to be more enthusiastic about school spirit. “Spirit is really important to my school because it shows that we’re all proud Comets!” August said, referring Solon’s mascot. “As a result of Solon’s school spirit,” August said, “I realized that all the students act as a family and are really enthusiastic about pretty much everything.”
Laurel sophomore Mara Cohen said, “Laurel’s school spirit has made the community closer. We all have something to talk about and enjoy together.”
Laurel holds many school spirit activities and competitions that excite students. One of Laurel’s spirit activities is its annual song contest, for which students compete to write and perform song parodies with a Laurel theme. There are two spirit teams that compete throughout the school year and are very supportive of Laurel athletic teams. “We are all very close, and we have a lot of traditions that keep the spirit alive,” Cohen said.
This year, Bellin-Warren has noticed a declined display of school spirit at Shaker. “We as a Student Council should stress the spirit days more,” Bellin-Warren said. Sinicariello would like to see spirit days for more teams to increase people’s excitement about more sports than only football, basketball and hockey. But Pimplikar thinks that students are unresponsive to administrators’ and Student Council’s attempts at encouraging school spirit because spirit is not very important to students.
English Department Chairwoman Elaine Mason has noticed a gradual decline in school spirit since she started working at Shaker seven years ago. Mason has observed “more students denigrating their school” than when she began. “The change in spirit affects the climate in the hallway,” she said. People don’t seem to respect everything as much as they used to.
Mason believes that socioeconomics may play a role in the decrease in school spirit. “I think a lot of people don’t feel a part of the school community,” she said.
Athletes value their peers’ support. Senior hockey defenseman Jonathan Greenberg plays the same regardless of spirit level, but likes when the student body unites. “Momentum shifts when you have a crowd there,” Greenberg said.
Shaker Heights High School offers 58 different clubs. Five fall teams had a winning record this season. With the vast opportunity for school involvement, why don’t Shaker students have more spirit?
Bellin-Warren said, “Spirit is something everyone in the school should have.”
A version f this article appeared in print on 15 January 2013, on page 7 of The Shakerite