A new year, a new principal and a whole lot more spirit.
Students attended the first official pep rally at Shaker Heights High School in more than 15 years Oct. 16. Pep rallies had been discontinued by former Principal Michael Griffith after behavioral issues got out of hand.
The last Shaker pep rally was preceded by fights in the cafeteria that spilled into the parking lot. At the rally, held at Russell H. Rupp field on a warm, sunny afternoon, emotions ran so high that a student threw an egg, missing Griffith by a few feet.
Two years ago, Student Council started a homecoming fest the Friday before the homecoming dance. All went smoothly, no eggs were thrown, and students enjoyed the event. The fest was thrown again last year, but attendance was an issue. Pep rallies were clearly still out of the mix, and a pep rally without the name is not a pep rally.
Pep rallies offer chances for students to exhibit their pride and unite as Shaker Raiders. A homecoming fest doesn’t quite cut it. Obscuring the name extinguishes any Shaker pride that the event might have sparked.
Pep rallies have now returned with the permission of Interim Principal James Reed III, and Shaker students are glad to welcome them back. The Oct. 16 pep rally included the band, football team, Raiderettes and cheerleaders. Students also enjoyed performances by freestyle rapper Conor Smith and the Cleveland Dance group Artistic Rebels.
“For me it kind of opened up my eyes to see how much talent was at Shaker,” freshman Delaney Eisen said, “and that kind of brought me closer to Shaker, so I really liked that aspect.”
The football players burst into the north gym and took the crowd by storm. They jogged through a line of Raiderettes, and the stands erupted with cheers. Somehow, the audience got even louder when the players ripped through a banner at the end of the line.
Reed addressed the students as the rally came to a close, but there was chattering among the crowd. After all, what spirited student wants to listen to an inaudible speech? Nevertheless, Reed regained his footing with a strong closing: “We will always be Raiders… We are all Raiders!” he said, capturing the crowd with what mattered most: his Shaker spirit.
For future pep rallies, however, students have some suggestions for improvement.
Most speakers got their messages across, but there was an air of confusion during each transition from one event to the next.
“The sound system was really terrible,” cheerleader Nya Christian said. “When we did our dance, we couldn’t hear the music at all, and we were all off.”
“The speakers were definitely an issue last time around, and we are looking into alternative options for the winter pep rally,” student council’s head of spirit Jacob Voyzey said.
The point of a pep rally is not only to increase spirit of the whole school. Most pep rallies occur before a big athletic event, such as the homecoming football game, in order to pump up the players. This pep rally was a full day before the homecoming game, and excitement seemed to die down before the football team played.
Eisen agreed that the timing of the rally was unusual. “I don’t think it really helped the football team,” she said.
Student council is planning another pep rally for the start of winter sports, and they intend to make some changes. Among other things, they plan to hold a class competition.
Eisen was impressed with the event overall. She said the pep rally “helped people to realize, ‘Whoa, Shaker’s really awesome!’”