We have spirit… or do we?

Mallory Moats

During the week of Homecoming, students wandered the hallways wearing a variety of odd clothing. Monday, pajamas were in. Tuesday, it was mismatched socks. But these unusual looks were not just a fast fad, they were the result of a spirit week. Homecoming’s spirit week was put on by Rolla High School’s Student Council, but other organizations also plan spirit weeks every year. However, all spirit weeks serve one main purpose: to promote school spirit. But, what exactly is school spirit?
“School spirit is being one,” said senior Lauren Tyler. “Not just as a class, but as a whole school participating in one thing. I think school spirit is having hope and faith in your school. It can be in different ways with sports, extracurriculars or clubs, but it’s unifying not just by grade, but as a whole school.”
Tyler only started attending RHS this school year; however, she still chose to participate in the Homecoming spirit week.
“I don’t feel uncomfortable [being a new student and participating] because when I do, people think I’m an active part of the school,” said Tyler. “Being new here has actually not been a problem since I’ve met people, and they’ve been nice to me, so I’m not scared or embarrassed to show school spirit.”
Some student organizations expect their members to participate in the spirit weeks.
“I’m part of the Student Council, and they actually wanted us to participate, and encourage other students to participate,” said Tyler.
However, students with no affiliation to one of these organizations are left with a choice of whether or not to participate in spirit week. Senior Sarah Beetner had no desire to dress differently.
“Our spirit days aren’t very good,” said Beetner. “I just don’t find them very interesting. It’s easier for me to just get ready like I normally would than make a distinct effort towards something that doesn’t really interest me.”
Beetner’s lack of participation also reflects her take on the school spirit culture of the school.
“School spirit would be taking pride in your school and what it stands for,” said Beetner. “Our school wants us to take pride when I’m not quite sure what we stand for or how the quality of our school compares to others. We’re required to go to school, but why is this school something I should be proud to be a part of? If [Rolla High School] had really high quality education, or if they stood for something, not politically because we’re a public school, but if they went above and beyond to have a student-led administration type thing, I think I would be much more vocal about how much I believe in the school.”
Senior Thomas Emory holds a different view.
“I think most people participate in school spirit week because it’s just a fun way to bring everyone together and to show that we are united as a school,” said Emory. “Despite the pandemic and all the things that are making the school year a bit of a challenge for everyone, we can all have fun and enjoy what’s going on.”
If spirit week participation is a quantitative approach to measuring a student body’s pride in their institution, the results might be flawed.
For example, senior Ali Abduljaleel’s lack of participation was not a purposeful protest, but just an oversight.
“I woke up late, and I couldn’t find my pajamas,” said Abduljaleel. “So I just grabbed something else because I was going to be late to school.”
Abdujaleel’s struggle to participate in spirit week is reflective of the struggles Rolla High School’s Student Council and administration have had when planning school spirit activities such as the pep assembly and homecoming dance.
“It [planning the Homecoming pep assembly] was difficult because we were trying to plan around rain since it was outside,” said Hayden Hawkins, a Student Council member. “That was worrisome up until the very last second because it was decided during pride that day if we were going to end up having the assembly or not, so we were scrambling to finish up the games and stuff right before.”
While Midwest weather can always leave plans in the air, social distancing and public health concerns have added another layer to planning traditional school spirit activities. Hawkins believes this has had an effect on the student body’s overall school spirit.
“I definitely think that people have lost school spirit within the past couple years just because it’s harder to do activities,” said Hawkins. “It’s more of a struggle to get people to participate in school spirit stuff.”
As the school spirit activities return to the high school, students are once again left with a choice to participate in them. Hawkins thinks students should, and will benefit from it.
“Although it is a struggle to get people to participate, I definitely think that school spirit is very important,” said Hawkins. “It definitely amplifies the good that happens in school, and students are more engaged when there’s school spirit activities. The problem is that they have to engage in it themselves, and that’s still a struggle.”