In a school where a supportive environment is touted as our trademark, a student-run event that fosters hostility and rivalry could seem out of place. Spirit Week may increase team spirit among classes, but too much competition can pit students against each other. We work hard and play hard, but when things get too cutthroat, play turns into work.
For some students and staff, the words “Spirit Week” have grown to evoke feelings of mental exhaustion rather than excitement. Organizing competitors and arranging plans are typical duties for students in charge, but too much strain comes from an overwhelming need to “satisfy” their class’s expectations of a victory. It devours time and energy, sometimes pushing school assignments and other work to the side.
While events can look simple on the surface, tasks as small as leading scavenger hunts or selecting a promising dodgeball team can take hours of work. Behind a five-minute Lip Sync or Mr. CHS performance are weeks of brainstorming, rehearsal and prop preparation. Certain competitions become draining not only in effort, but money as well. With leadership responsibility often falling on the same students every year, hundreds of personal dollars, as well as class funds, are funnelled into events.
Focusing too much on Spirit Week also impacts council elections, with students often voting with Spirit Week as a priority over more important issues like fundraising. While the glory of a Spirit Week victory fades within days, poorly-managed fundraisers and missed financial goals can follow a class into senior year. It’s good to put one’s best efforts forward in Spirit Week, but going overboard distracts classes and their councils from vital matters such as fundraising and planning big events like dances and Coffeehouse.
For some students that are forced to choose schoolwork over lunchtime events, they can be met with resentment and even hostility, despite no concrete obligations to participate. Some simply do not have the time or the resources to be in three places at once. Students should participate and compete if they have the time, but they should not be vilified if they can’t.
Complicated alliances and rivalries between grades create another web of hostility. Tensions can run so far high, classes can seem to take more pride in others’ defeat than their own successes. While Spirit Week is intended to be a celebration of our school’s family-like nature, overzealous competition turns the week into more of a battle than a light-hearted contest. Instead of bringing students closer together, misinterpretations of the week’s purpose lead to tribalism over community.
But it still brings benefits. As a freshman in a new environment, the fall can be a difficult and alien time. Being thrown into events with your eighty new classmates is a trial by fire, and the frantic nature of Spirit Week is arguably the most effective form of bonding.
While the week may be hard work, it is nonetheless a respite from the usual lunchtime monotony. Cheering on your classmates can beat stressing over homework in Room 107, and being able to sprint through the hallways isn’t a privilege that comes every day.
Students should not strive to care less. Instead, they should jump into the events with the same tenacity, but with a mindset that the journey is more important than the results. After the dust settles and the points are tallied, classes should walk away with a sense of closeness instead of animosity.
Spirit Week is undoubtedly a cornerstone of our school’s personality, but only with its original intentions: to provide a break from schoolwork and foster unity within classes. Without sports teams to rally behind, it’s important to have something to bring the students together. As a school, we just need to find the line between friendly competition and cutthroat battle.