Pep rally at South has a history of evoking pained groans and upperclassmen cuts. Most of us are excited for pep rally solely because we know shortened periods await us. This year, however, we were pleasantly surprised. Walking into school with Rebel cheerleaders handing out raffle tickets and Facing History students handing out food, we experienced a different atmosphere in school. The lobby was decorated with streamers and posters, the mascot was walking around taking pictures with people, and students were yelling and screaming in their blue and orange attire. The heightened spirit seemed to continue at pep rally, with smoke machines, disco lights, and a new entrance for sports teams. No one shuffled out of the gym, relieved the ordeal was over; students instead bounced out of the gym, chatting about how great this year’s pep rally was.
Thinking about it, however, pep rally really wasn’t all that different. While more energized, this year’s pep rally contained the same events: the new principal gave a speech, the cheerleaders executed their routines, the band and chorus performed the national anthem, and the sports teams ran through the balloon archway. While no one should discredit the hard work put into pep rally this year, many of the changes simply embellished the fundamental elements of pep rally. Decorating the lobby, handing out raffle tickets, and shifting the layout of the gym were great additions that helped evoke our hidden spirit, but they did not change the fundamental core of pep rally.
Instead, our change in the amount of spirit must have stemmed from something else. We often advocate for individuals to take charge of the situation and contribute to school spirit. We urge students to consider how even one person can cause an extensive change, that if each student played his or her part, South would be full of spirit. Some may argue this is what Student Government and Facing History did this year: they played their parts. Yet the decorations in the lobby and smoke machine in the gym signified a bigger accomplishment. We walked into school, a little taken aback by the vitality around us, a little awed by the time spent decorating because this made us feel more valued. Student Government and Facing History’s efforts reminded us that our school still cares about its spirit. Among our daily derogatory conversations about our lack of school spirit, we have forgotten the undeniable fact that South is an integral part of our identities. South has been a school built on students’ accomplishments, ranging from activities in academic clubs to performances to sport teams. Although streamers and posters seem like simple additions, they demonstrate the pride students feel when thinking about South.
In movies, school spirit is commonly shown through images of big crowds at football games and unending seas of school colors. While these generic images do demonstrate immense school spirit, they are not the only ways to show our pride for South. This pep rally showed us that, contrary to belief, we have school spirit. Perhaps we just need to redefine school spirit. We should stop thinking that spirit starts only with blue and orange crowds cheering at football games but with students feeling that they belong to the South community. Obviously, we should not disregard the classic contributions to school spirit, such as wearing blue and orange on Fridays or going to home games to cheer on our athletes. Yet we also should not forget the smaller actions: purchasing food at bake sales to support our clubs, going to the numerous school events—International Night, Battle of the Bands, school musicals and operas—to support all kinds of students, or reading the newspaper instead of throwing it in the trash (obviously the most important one). School spirit begins with growing and preserving the pride students already feel at South. We are proud of our clubs and teams. We are proud of our students and their accomplishments. We are proud of who we’ve become at South.
Who knows, maybe in a few years, pep rally will have an entirely different history—one of excited cheers and maximized capacity.