It can be seen walking down the hallways when two people give each other a high five and show genuine feelings of excitement and enthusiasm. Those people might be the stars of the football team, or they might simply be two friends. This friendly interaction can be seen after almost every block, with very few exceptions. A simple smile to a person walking in the opposite direction is another example of this type of pride–a pride in each other, and enthusiasm for simply seeing another person.
“We don’t really think about it, but we all show our [school] spirit every day in many ways, big and small,” said Gabby Vaccaro, a freshman at AHS. “To me, school spirit is the columns that support a school. It can be on the field, in the bleachers, on the stage, or even in the classroom. School spirit is all about being proud–proud of your team, cast mates, mathletes, or club mates.”
Although not always noticeable, school spirit can be found in all the nooks and crannies of the school, and also right when one walks through the front door. Whether it is in the classroom or on the field, school spirit can be found everywhere because it can only be defined by an individual and may be different to everyone.
A girl sits on the bench at the big game, sweat dripping off her brow, with a look of intensity as sharp as needles. She focuses on the outcome of the game, commenting every now and then with “Good job!” and “Let’s go team!” Pride shows in the smiles at the end of the game with disregard to the outcome as both teams shake hands respectively, with no one murmuring under his or her breath in frustration. The teams line up like soldiers going into battle; although they have just completed one challenge, it is only the beginning. The pride and effort made by both teams is something worth smiling for. Whether it is basketball, volleyball or field hockey, both teams have empathy for one another.
Vaccaro said that AHS athletes “always support their teammates whether they are cheering for them over a goal or providing a shoulder to cry on over a bad day.” Vaccaro plays on the varsity field hockey and ice hockey teams and plans to play lacrosse in the spring.
On any given school day, a team can be found ready for battle, some sporting eye black, others fully dressed in camouflage, ready to hide from the enemy and spring up from behind. The sports teams’ spirit days are a very common aspect of AHS. During the highpoint of the season, every other day is dedicated as a spirit day for one team or another.
Mr. Bledsoe, a science teacher, describes a story from his first day at AHS on the spirit shown by the athletes. When he walked into the building, he said, “I saw students wearing colors and whatnot, and they were shocked when all of a sudden I said, ‘go football!’ they were like, ‘what?’ they turn around and here’s this teacher, cheering them on and they are just walking down the hall on the first day of school. [Sport spirit days] allow the students to show their commitment to who they are as representatives of the school.”
In addition to being a representative of the school, sport spirit days allow a person to “have fun and bond off the field and show your team unity and spirit,” which is an important aspect of school spirit, said Vaccaro.
Emphasizing team unity is a way to show one’s commitment to one’s team. If an athlete is committed to being an active participant and representative of a team, he or she will show it, and sports spirit days are a great way to do so.
The sport spirit days are a great addition to the school because they “promote both the sports team and Andover High as a team,” according to Elise Miner, a freshman
Showing school spirit does not have to be an elaborate display. It would not be considered lazy if one does not go “all out” on spirit days as long as the person is participating.
When Cailey Denoncourt, a freshman, has a spirit day for one of three sports she participates in, she describes her school spirit as, “all for it, but simple. I am not the type of person who would go all out on spirit day with pink leggings, pink socks, pink shirt, pink necklaces, and everything pink, but something simpler, still participating, like simply a pink shirt.”
As a representative of the school, it is a student’s personal responsibility to have and show school spirit if desired. Although there are always going to be people who do not have school spirit, one should “feel something positive or something that helps you contribute to what you are a part of. It is like being a community member,” according to Bledsoe.
School spirit can also be found in the classroom. A student sits quietly in the middle of the class, taking notes. The point of her pencil moving across the page produces a small barely audible squeak. One may not see school spirit right away, but the focus in her eyes gives a glimpse of the pride inside. She focuses on her schoolwork but is willing to help a fellow classmate figure out the answer to a problem. By doing so, she is showing devotion to the school and its well-being. From observing here on any day, one could not tell that she participates in three sports–cross country, ski team, and softball–and has a strong school spirit.
Teachers can also have school spirit by “[putting in] hard work, dedication to his classes, and taking care of kids before and after school,” said Bledsoe. He defines school spirit as “a realization that you are in a position, in a school, as a student or a teacher. It’s meaningful because this is where you are and where you work and where you are going to develop and learn…but second how do you express it to other schools, to the outside world if you so choose.”
School spirit can be related to things other than sports and in the classroom. “School spirit is somewhat related to the fundraisers we do here,” said Mrs. Deschenes, a Spanish teacher. “Especially around the holidays when people are walking around, asking for donations. I think it brings our school together and makes it feel smaller.”
Miner participated in the recent musical, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and although she is not currently involved in a sport, she tries to participate in most of the school-wide spirit days and the musical and show choir spirit days. She is also part of Freshman Board, which helps to promote spirit throughout the school.
Spirit days could be applied to other extra-curricular activities or the school as a whole, not only sports-centered, according to Caitlin Buggy, a junior, co-president of the Birthday Wishes Club.
Olinah Hassan, also a junior, agrees and said, “I think there are some people who feel a bit left out with the school spirit days since they are heavily focused upon sports. I’m not saying that sports aren’t important, but it would be nice to highlight other activities since not everyone likes the same things. Differences are what make the school culture more lively and interesting.” She also suggests that spirit days could be expanded to things other than clubs, such as bands or things where there is a small or large fan-following.
All teams show school spirit in many forms. A team can be any group of people that have a commitment to one another and have a common goal. School spirit is something different to everyone. Even if one cannot see it right away, to some extent, it is always there.
No matter how one would like to show school spirit, Bledsoe suggests, “Let’s all get together as a school and cheer on each other.”
By Alexandra Scott