The same pep rally every time: Students express need for new activities amidst lack of school spirit

by Yethmie Goonatilleke, Editor-in-Chief

The latest pep rally held at the end of February featured an astounding lack of participation from the senior class, so much so that the stands felt a bit empty. That same week, a spirit week took place featuring common themes such as Pajama Day or Jersey Day, yet only a handful of students sported their favorite jerseys or comfortable PJs.

When I was in eighth grade, I vividly remember walking into the school and seeing the senior hallway decked out with themed decorations and lights for Homecoming. Yet now, the decorations, attitude, and spirit towards certain school events feel lackluster. Especially with the recent pep rally, I’ve begun to wonder, why exactly is there such a lack of school spirit at our school?

This sentiment regarding school spirit seems to have a general consensus. 84.5% of participants in a survey believe that there’s been a lack of school spirit this year. In addition, there was a significant drop in the number of students at the Winter Pep Rally vs the Fall one—specifically 91.3% vs 75.5%. The majority of those interviewed (52.4%) did not participate in the recent spirit week at all. The one area where students did seem to participate was sports events— 73.8% of those surveyed attended at least one game as a spectator.

One potential cause for the lack of participation could be stress regarding schoolwork, as many students at GRHS tend to take multiple advanced and AP courses, especially upperclassmen.

“I think I would like [an environment with a lot of school spirit] but like I said, it’s kind of on the backburner for me since I’m someone that prioritizes my individual work,” senior Cadia Warner said.

But when a larger pool of students was surveyed about this matter, the results weren’t exactly conclusive. When asked to what extent (based on a scale of 1-5) does stress regarding homework and school affect your participation in school-wide events, most students adopted a neutral stance: 29.4% ranked this category as a “3.”

Another likely cause for the absence of school spirit can be attributed to generational differences; perhaps students now just don’t enjoy traditional school events and activities. A common response to the question ‘What activities would you like to see at a future pep rally?’ was something rather general but telling. A handful of students wrote something along the lines of “something different from the normal games and contests” or “a different variety, not the same games every time.” It appears a lot of students would simply prefer new activities.

It may be too difficult to pinpoint exactly why our school has little to no school spirit, but one thing that’s certain is that a lot of students actually have some innovative ideas and activities that could be implemented in our school. In fact, an easy way to “solve” this problem could be hearing out suggestions from students instead of holding the same exact pep rally each year and utilizing the same spirit day themes.

“Rather than the adults planning things and coming up with ideas, I’d rather hear from the kids. What I think at this point is needed is for the kids to say ‘this is what we want.’ And it may not be traditional stuff,” Dr. Parent said, agreeing with the idea that students’ voices regarding school-wide activities are extremely valuable.

And so I’ve compiled the results from the open-ended questions of my survey in a document, filled with a variety of suggestions from students. Some are similar to what our school has been doing, others more unique. Some interesting suggestions I spotted myself were class competition-based activities (such as a Hogwarts-esque class cup type of thing), color wars, relay races, food eating contests, trivia, human-sized hamster balls, and obstacle courses— just to name a few!