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The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

Lack of school spirit obvious among students

Lack of school spirit obvious among students

Students pack into the bleachers. After only a few minutes, everyone is already hot and sweaty and their face paint is beginning to melt. It’s the first Friday and the first pep-rally of the school year. The SGA steps onto the field. “Let’s hear it for the seniors!” they call out and immediately screams and shouts echo across the field.
The poms, cheerleaders and marching band join in. The contest of which class can be the loudest continues: each class is louder than the one before and when freshmen let out a cheer, the seniors on the other end of the bleachers can barely hear them.
Year after year this trend continues, and year after year the disgruntled whispers of “it’s rigged” from the underclassmen continue when the seniors are pronounced the winners.
While it may seem like the contest is rigged, the reality is that the seniors usually are the most spirited. The older, more spirited classes graduate, the new freshman class being less spirited than the one before.
Why School Spirit is Low
Is each class really less spirited than the one before it? It is impossible to know for sure, but it seems so and the most likely reasons include the lack of cohesion in the school and the academic drive that has been installed in us all.
Our school’s diversity helps us in many ways, however it also harms us. With so many different ways students are segregated, not just by classes and interests but also by culture and ethnicity, it is hard to create a sense of unity.
“A lot of people from shared backgrounds kind of pair off and don’t intermingle with people from different ones very much, naturally forming pseudo-cliques,” senior Joseph Davies said. “Of course, this is not entirely exclusive, as there is definitely some integration between groups but there isn’t enough commingling to really create the sense of unity that is needed to have school spirit.”
Teachers also have a hard time standing united, as most teachers only interact with those in their own departments. Recently, this has been addressed by having faculty members give each other Secret Santa gifts, with each teacher giving gifts (one every day for the week of Dec. 12-16) to someone who works in a different department.
The amount of pressure that students feel here also keeps them from participating in school events. MCPS schools, particularly the “four W” schools, are known for their academic performance. Students feel pressure to succeed and between the choices of studying so you can get an A or using the time to go to a school event, the event usually loses.
“I think many students, especially at schools like Wootton where there is a lot of academic pressure, don’t feel they have enough time to help build a sense of school spirit since they have a lot to worry about with their classes,” Davies said.
Spirit Week and Homecoming
The week leading up to Homecoming is known for being the week in which there is the most school spirit. Students and teachers alike will happily use spirit week as an excuse to break away from social norms and act silly and strange. Walking through the halls this year, it may not have looked like many people participated in spirit week, however, a large portion of students report dressing up. Most students admit they only dressed up for one day, usually pajama day. Those who did not participate stated that they abstained from dressing up because they were too lazy, they did not like the spirit day themes and they “do not care” enough to participate.
Despite students complaining about spirit week and homecoming, they still get to school early on Friday in order to view the hallways, all decked out in accordance to the Homecoming theme, and accompanying skits. Class planning will take hours to create all the hallway decorations and stay late into the evening on Thursday in order to make the hallways look perfect. Unfortunately, that perfection does not last long. Minutes after the judges have gone through the halls, the students are allowed to take a peek as well and with hundreds of students rushing through, the decorations are torn apart and torn down. As they go through, students judge the halls themselves, usually making negative comments.
The class floats do not get as much attention as the halls, and, despite the fact that they are presented right before the Homecoming game, only a handful of students (other than SGA and class planning) and teachers take the time to see them, and the skits that go along with them. The few students who make an effort to see the floats illustrate the lack of student interest in the work that class planning does.
The Homecoming game, which is traditionally the most attended football game of the year (with the exception of the Wootton-Churchill game) follows the presentation of the floats. However, while there are few students who go to see the float, the bleachers were packed with students who choose to brave the cold in order to attend this year’s game.
The Homecoming dance, which seems to be much less popular than the game, is usually attended by freshmen going for their first time, seniors getting in one last homecoming dance and those who are required to go (SGA members and Homecoming Court). This year, the SGA sold every single ticket, a total of 800. The majority of students who choose not to go said it was because none of their friends are going, the tickets cost more than they are willing to pay, or they think the dance is lame.
Sports and Spirit
The poms and cheerleaders are known for their performances at football games and pep rallies. These talented ladies are often overshadowed by the Woottonettes’ (the male poms) more amusing performances. At the Homecoming pep rally, the Woottonettes had students roaring, while the poms, who had to stop their routing multiple times due to their music cutting off, left the floor to booing and annoyed shouts. Amongst the yelling were a number of rude and/or sexist comments, some of which called specific members of the poms squad out by name. Despite the yelling, the poms are one of the few groups that is able to unite the student body, as four out of five students can name at least one member of the poms squad, indicating that these ladies are well-known throughout the school.
The Woottonettes also have the ability to unite the student body as they draw large crowds and make students laugh at their antics. Unfortunately for fans, the Woottonettes will not be around much longer, as, according to administrator Crystal Dovman, there have been complaints that the existence of a male dance crew that dresses and dances provocatively is degrading to men.
However both the Woottonettes and the students disagree. The gentlemen who are a part of the male dance crew are offered the chance to participate, but they are not required or pressured to accept the invitation.
“To most of us, it’s just a fun thing to do. We join up and we fool around and get laughs from it. Yeah, to some degree, we are teasing the poms, but they know that and they’re cool with it. We wouldn’t do it otherwise if they weren’t,” a senior member of the Woottonettes who wishes to remain anonymous said. “To us, it’s not degrading at all, it’s just a way to sort of reverse roles and break gender norms, and honestly, we all like to do it.”
The rate of wins and losses in sports are also thought to be affecting school spirit. While some sports, such as cross country, do well every year, they get little recognition for their accomplishments. Other, more popular sports, such as football, often get attention, but most of that attention is negative, and therefore gives students a negative outlook on the school, making them less likely to have school pride.
“I think that how often we win or lose a game definitely impacts the way we look at our school,” junior Anya Washington said. “To be able to say we won counties or states for more than one sport would probably add a lot more to school pride.”
SGA and School Spirit
The SGA does its best to arrange events that increase school spirit, and while the general student population may think their efforts are in vain, the members of the SGA disagree.
“I think a lot of people assume no one else has school spirit, and that the school as a whole has no school spirit,” SGA member Ornella Bayigamba said. “But we in the SGA disagree and we won’t be complacent about it simply because it’s a popular opinion. We have a lot of special events lined up that we hope people will really care about.”
Among these events is the annual spring project, which has yet to be announced, but is said to be opening and powerful.
The SGA is a step ahead of students, as the majority of students asked suggested that the school increase the number of spirit weeks and pep rallies, something the SGA is already working on. They hope to be able to arrange for one pep rally per season.
The SGA is also doing their best to listen to student opinion and make changes based on the feedback they hear. Because of this, the music in the hallways has increased, becoming a bi-weekly event.
“Honestly, we’re students too, and when people come to us and complain about school spirit, we feel it and we listen,” Bayigamba said.

 

Shelby Ting

Front Page Editor

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