By Brynn Stevens
Every athlete or performer dreams of the moment they taste victory, and the crowd goes wild with excitement and standing ovations. But do those crowds exist in Andover High School? There are very mixed feelings about whether or not our school has any spirit at all.
“The teams are really spirited, but as a school, not so much,” observed Chantal Kellard, noticing this as a freshman at AHS. Dan O’Leary, a junior, concurred: “We don’t have school spirit, we have team spirit.”
Aside from sports, Fiona Lafferty, a freshman, said that in general “there’s an extreme of people who have school spirit, and of those who aren’t really involved.”
Kellard, O’Leary, and Lafferty all summarized the general sentiment of most students and teachers interviewed.
Despite the fact that Principal Dr. Lord hopes “everyone recognizes the umbrella [of spirit] that we’re all under,” many students and faculty agree that everyone cheers for their own niche and not really for the whole school.
As an example of this selectivity, Jessica Witten, a junior basketball player, said how only parents show up for the girls’ basketball games, while Jack’s Jungle gathers a huge crowd for the boys.
Well known for her photography, Kelsey Stevens, a senior, answers, “Jack’s Jungle definitely pushes people to go to all sporting events, but they push more for basketball.” She also went on to say that during the winter, basketball is more convenient to watch because the other sports are away or take a very long time. Stevens did not mention a difference between the boys and girls basketball teams.
Mr. Iworsley, jumping coach for the Andover Track Team, further explained, “Because AHS is on a different level than other schools competitive wise, no [student-athlete] has the freedom to go to other sporting events. They are busy trying to be successful in their own.”
From a non-athletic point of view, Mrs. Stevens, a teacher at AHS, agreed, saying how she feels badly for not going to any school events, but she has her family and work to handle at home. “And I know that’s the case with a lot of kids too,” she added, “You guys try to do everything and don’t really have time to go do stuff like that.”
But Witten argued that although she thinks school spirit is important, “I feel like a lot of kids are forced to be spirited. It should be a personal choice that you make.” This “forcing” Witten later explained as kids doing spirit days because that’s what they’re told to do, not because they want to. With this, she pointed out the freshmen, but also that there’s always a group of students who don’t feel like dressing up.
Witten’s point came up again when student Stevens noted that seniors are the main source of spirit at AHS.
In relation to this, Mrs. Choquette, a teacher at AHS, said honestly, “Sometimes it’s hard to come together because we are a large school. However, I do believe we all feel strongly for what we do here.”
Despite this somewhat general agreement of “team spirit” not “school spirit,” very few had solid answers for how to fix this problem. When asked, everyone interviewed agreed that school spirit is important for bringing people together and bonding our community, but that is as far as most people would say.
Also among the students and faculty interviewed, there seemed a divide between sport and club spirit at Andover High School.
To put it bluntly, senior Shawna Fox said, “…the majority of our generation just doesn’t care about other people and the community.”
In disagreement, student Stevens said, “It’s not as direct, the school spirit that you see from the extra-curriculars, but it’s there because they want to support their school in a way that they can do.” She also added how she’s seen the Drama Guild support various sport events and participate in Spirit Days: “[Their expression] may not be athletic, but they put in a lot of work for what they do to show the school all these different talents that they have.”
So it’s not that AHS has no school spirit, we are just selective in how and when we show it. AHS needs to extend their spirit to other corners of the school. And hopefully in a few years, students will not just look at you and awkwardly say “Uh…” when asked their general opinion of the spirit level at AHS.