My turn: No thanks, no need for false motivation of 'school spirit'

Posted: Tuesday, December 02, 2003

No thanks, I don't want your school spirit and have no intention of showing my own. I'm tired of school spirit. I'm sick of clapping and screaming. I'm sick of pep rallies. I'm sick of JDHS sweatshirts and fake enthusiasm for a school when truthfully any logic behind school spirit eludes me.

I suppose now you're beginning to make your assumptions about me and a picture of who I am is slowly forming in your mind. You think that I'm expressing my typical adolescent angst, my anger, my apathy, with no real motivation to do this other than that it's just what us teens do. Let me explain before you make your judgments - perhaps your assumptions will be proved correct, but hear me out first.

What is the purpose of school spirit? Many would say school spirit is meant to provide a sense of community, though I find it hard to believe this could be the purpose in a place where public humiliation and complete rejection based on superficial guidelines are typical occurrences. So how can this work for those of us who have never been a part of the community? Saying a few things about how great my school is isn't going to make me feel any less estranged by my peers.

Others might claim that it instills a sense of pride in students, the belief that their school is great, their education first-rate. I'd rather hear the truth. I have had teachers who were amazing, who taught me more than I could hope to learn elsewhere and made me curious, and I am grateful for these rare individuals. But there have been bad ones, too. Many more bad ones than good ones. I can now honestly say that more of my schooling has been spent learning how to make pretty posters and colorful diagrams - the information portrayed on these things seeming to be irrelevant - than I have learning how to write a formal essay or learning American history - or history for that matter - or even forming a basic understanding of modern-day politics. I don't consider my school all that great and my education, if of any rate at all, is of a very low one. I'd rather not pretend I pride myself in being a Crimson Bear because of the educational structure of our school.

It would seem that there is no real reason for school spirit for people like me, people who don't play sports and aren't all that "academically-inclined," as some might put it, or find that they have no place on the social ladder other than the very bottom and find themselves everyday wanting nothing more than to escape school long enough to construct a half-decent thought. So that's why I say to you now as a word of caution: Be careful if, when you ask me to show my school spirit, you expect a song or a cheer because I might just spit in your face instead.

• Katie Hale is a student at Juneau-Douglas High School.

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