It’s Homecoming Week at my girls’ high school. The football game is tonight and the dance is tomorrow night. All week, every day, there have been different Spirit Days for the students to participate in — Nerd Day, Superhero Day, etc. Today is School Spirit Day and everyone is encouraged to wear school colors (black and orange).
In order to really amp up the spirit, each graduating class is challenged to out-do the others in terms of numbers of people participating in that day’s theme. The prize is the Spirit Stick — a piece of bamboo that is rumored to have been hacked from a bamboo grove with car keys, then painted and be-ribboned and be-dazzled and be-I-don’t-know-what-else.
This is all an attempt to build school spirit, something that I know the principal and faculty have been working on all year. When I heard back in August that spirit building would be a big goal for this year, I was perplexed. I didn’t get it. I just assumed that everyone automatically had school spirit, but apparently that’s not the case.
I had school spirit back in my day. Lots of it. I went to pep rallies and football games and wore my green and gold with pride. So much so, in fact, that when I ordered my class ring, I got my birthstone (emerald) in the obligatory gold setting and was delighted that it perfectly matched up with school colors. Yes, I’m a little OCD that way.
My girls, on the other hand, don’t have nearly as much school spirit. They like their school just fine, but they don’t understand my enthusiasm for wearing school colors and going to pep rallies and all that. One girl is only going to today’s pep rally because it’s scheduled during 6th and 7th periods and is mandatory. She is, in fact, irritated mightily that she’s missing her favorite classes to go to something she has no interest in. The other teen has a bit more spirit and is decked out today in top-to-bottom black and orange. I am hoping that both girls will have some sort of epiphany about pep rallies and school spirit, but I’m not counting on it.
We all know that high school is a difficult time. What with the raging hormones and the general awkwardness everyone goes through. Plus there’s that whole figuring out who I am thing. Most of them think they are really, really different from their peers — not knowing that everyone is struggling in some way.
Some people have a really hard time with high school, some have an easy time, and some are somewhere in between. Some people don’t let the screen door hit their butts as they leave after graduation — speeding away so rapidly that the dust trails don’t settle for days. Others love high school and never really leave it afterward — continuing to hang out with their high school friends for the next 20, 30, or more years.
Generally speaking, I had a good high school experience. I wasn’t a super popular cheerleader or anything like that, but I had a great group of friends and activities that I enjoyed, and I wasn’t bullied. I am not scarred by events from nearly 30 years ago. I’m still in contact with various people of that era. (Thank you Facebook, for making this possible.) I don’t look back at that era and groan or weep.
It will be interesting to see what my girls think about today’s pep rally and tonight’s football game with all its related Homecoming activities. And it will be interesting to watch them go through high school — not just to see the women they are becoming, but also to see what (if any) school pride they will develop. And after that, I’ll be curious to see which of their current friends they will remain close to and what their post-graduation feelings about this time of their lives will be.
What about you? What were your high school years like? How do you feel about them now? Did you have school spirit?