It’s a typical morning at Andover High School—students calling to one another down the crowded hallways, procrastinators rushing to try and finish last night’s homework, and the occasional Batman, princess, or student clad in a blue spandex body suit meandering down the hallways. A freshman stands wide-eyed by his locker as he gazes at his peers going about their usual morning routine, pondering the possibility of forgetting it was Halloween. As the first bell of the day blares, he rubs his eyes, wondering if his late night of homework is already catching up to him.

Vibhav and Shishir Bhat go to school as superheroes prior to the marching band's performance. (Photo by Alison Murtagh)
Vibhav and Shishir Bhat go to school as superheroes prior to the marching band’s performance. (Photo by Alison Murtagh)

In his social studies class he is met by soccer uniforms, boys dressed in ties and khakis, girls in tiaras, and a boy in a Superman cape. He can’t comprehend why everyone is acting so casual—there’s a princess in the next seat over! Is this some kind of joke? No, it’s game day at AHS.

Before every game, match, meet, competition, or performance, members of AHS teams and clubs dress up and participate in spirit days. Spirit days allow students to be creative and express both their team and school pride. They help to promote team bonding and encourage people to get excited about their game or performance.

“Spirit days are awesome! I like how you get to dress up and be united with your team,” said Bridget Collins, who plays on the school’s volleyball team.

Mr. Hibino, both a math teacher and coach of the girl’s tennis team, is in favor of these days as well. “When teams have a spirit day it drums up support and starts conversation from students and their teachers about their event and allows the team to get support and to draw a crowd out to their game,” said Hibino.

Teams and clubs alike participate in these dress-up days in order to get psyched up for their events later that day. Soojin Kim, senior co-captain of the school’s swim and dive team, said, “I like showing school pride whenever we have a meet. It gets the whole team excited.”

“The spirit days are passed down from captain to captain from year to year. Some teams, like the swim team, have a special spirit day,” said Casey Flanigan, a junior and member of the school’s swim and dive team as well. “The very first meet is always princess day. It shows everyone that we’re a team.”

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Amy Stankiewicz, a member of the volleyball team, and Emily McDowell, a member of the swim team, dress up in preparation for their teams’ events. (Photo by Alison Murtagh)

Although the boys’ swim and dive team doesn’t dress up as princesses, they participate in spirit days nonetheless. Tom Dufton, who will be competing for his third year as a member of the boys’ swim team, described his spirit day: “We just wear a shirt and tie. It’s been a longstanding tradition.”

Other groups, the marching band for example, enjoy trying new themes every year. “We did superhero day last year, but that was the first time we had done it,” explained Dean Smith, who has played in the percussion section of the marching band for three years.

One might think that as students and athletes mature over the course of their four years at AHS they might not want to participate in these days—but this is the complete opposite.

“If you’re a veteran in some sport or club, you’re expected to do it. You’re expected to show the new people,” said Smith, who is a junior. For Blue and Gold Day, the first spirit day for the marching band this year, Smith wore a blue spandex body suit in order to set an example for the freshmen in the band.

The spirit days are usually chosen by the longest standing veterans of all—the seniors. Senior co-captains of the varsity cheerleading team Alivia Fazio and Darla Peterson mentioned how they create spirit days themselves.

Jules Teichert, a freshman swimmer, recently participated in her first spirit day. When asked about how her peers are reacting, she responded, “A lot of people are taking double takes. They’ll slowly look at you, then turn around [and] be like, ‘Wait, what?’”

So, the next time you walk into school, don’t be shocked by someone dressed in their pajamas, as a super hero, or in leis and hula skirt. If you’re participating in a spirit day yourself, keep that tiara held high, Batman cape flowing, and nerd-day glasses in place, and remember, according to Kim, “You’ll always get funny looks. You just have to embrace it.”

By Alison Murtagh