Leaders should lead (and other groundbreaking ideas)


Photo by Jessie Burton

As a senior, I’ve witnessed the transformation of our school’s student section. Former student Drew Sullivan, class of 2014, began the section’s evolution, bringing organization to our school. He led the way for other equally great spirit leaders such as Bradley Ballew and Chris Carpenter. During this time, the student section had a new, fun atmosphere better than any I have ever expected.

Then this year began. While the beginning of this season saw the greatest spirit, game turnout has plummeted, despite having the best football record in the school’s history.

Yet with the seniors leading the school’s “spirit,” can anyone be blamed? Instead of encouraging school spirit and unity, as most spirit leaders should, this year’s seniors have actually caused an even greater divide.

Their “reign” has been riddled with hypocrisy. Any student who dares to speak badly – even jokingly – about their school or their team is immediately attacked by those in charge. Even the student section Twitter account berates its classmates and even students from other schools, going so far as to make fun of a boy simply because he was a part of a cheerleading team. Yet these same people who condemn any lack of school spirit (“if you don’t attend the game tonight, you’re irrelevant to life”) have been leaving games early (when we’re winning, c’mon that’s when you get the rowdiest), not cheering, or even not attending at all.

Patterns of attendance are both confusing and nonsensical. Some of the largest turnouts of the year were during the beginning of the year when the football team was losing most of their games. Yet once the team began actually winning games, attendance dropped.

And when the spirit leaders do decide to show up, they continually cross the line between rowdy and rude. They make fun of looks (a disturbingly common trend during girls’ volleyball), yell out obscenities (there are families at the games too, you know) and for some reason believe that offensive and racist chants (“where’s your dad?”) don’t apply to their black friends sitting right next to them.

Juniors cheer on as the seniors turn their back during the competition for the spirit stick.
Juniors cheer on as the seniors turn their back during the competition for the spirit stick. Photo by Jessie Burton

This is our last year of high school and we’re on top: this is the year we should be our most spirited. Instead, we’re not participating in powder puff cheer, we start petty arguments with juniors and underclassmen, and we’re leaving homecoming early to go to parties instead. The most recent pep rally served as a remarkable indicator of just how lame we are. Despite the fact it was a surprise pep rally to celebrate our football team going to districts, only half of our senior class showed up. Our bleachers- usually packed with a sea of black and festive crowns- were half-filled and downright pitiful. Even more depressing, during the competition for the spirit stick, our senior class decided not to participate and turned their backs to principal Mary Williams. The demonstration, protesting a cancelled senior lunch (which was going to be rescheduled), resulted in the forfeiting of the spirit stick and loss of our senior skip day.

But it’s not too late to change our ways. There are six months left of the school year, and we can use this time to transform our student section to something even bigger and better. Change needs to be made not only to make our last year more enjoyable, but to pave the way for following years. The current senior spirit leaders have turned off the masses from even attending sporting events, and the more we cause underclassmen to dislike the student section, the more we discourage them from having their own student section. In the three years leading up to my senior year, I couldn’t wait to become a part of the student section simply because we had spirit leaders who were fun and inspiring. I’ve always considered supporting my school as a critical high school experience, so the idea that classes after me won’t feel the same is disappointing. Future classes don’t deserve to have these experiences taken away because of our class’s selfish behavior.