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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Does Saratoga have less spirit than other schools?

“And the second place winner of Homecoming decorations is…” the announcer at the Homecoming football game began. The sea of sophomores clasped each other’s hands in anticipation of the announcement. They had been working on their decorations since summer, and this was the moment they had all been waiting for.
“The class of 2015!” the announcer finished.
The juniors jumped up with a deafening roar, while the crestfallen sophomores, who lost by one point, started booing. “We should’ve won that!” one yelled with tears in his eyes. “They definitely rigged it,” another echoed. “So unfair.”
Thought this was Saratoga? Wishful thinking — school spirit here is often seen as a lukewarm soup of apathy, disconnected enthusiasm and tutorials used for “real things” like homework. 
Nope, this is Monta Vista.
“It was really sad that we lost, but I think our sadness united us as a class and inspired us to do even better next year,” Monta Vista High School sophomore Heidi Wang said.
To many Monta Vista students, losing the Homecoming decorations competition was something worth shedding tears over. On the contrary, when Homecoming decoration winners are announced at Saratoga, students barely look up from their work to pay attention to the intercom.
Compared to nearby schools, Saratoga seems to be lacking in school spirit. Few people dress up for spirit days and many students would rather spend tutorials doing homework or studying than attending rallies. 
“We have a lot of kids who are academically focused and see school more as a place for learning, and only that,” said Saratoga sophomore Ellie Kriens, who transferred from Mitty at the beginning of the year. “Although Mitty also has academic priorities, I think they also focus a lot on school spirit because it brings the school closer together.”
 
Spirit Competitions
At Mitty, in-school rallies are mandatory for all students. According to Kriens, Mitty holds a huge rally each year called Monarch Madness at the San Jose Civic Center. Students apply to join a team of representatives and about 50 are randomly chosen to represent their class. Each team creates a dance routine and competes in relays and games. The rest of the class dresses up in their class colors and cheers on their representatives. 
“It's deafening for the entire three hours,” Kriens said. “It's optional to go to Monarch Madness, but almost the entire school shows up each year; it's a huge deal there.” 
Supposedly, academics and spirit are opposed; Saratoga is too academic, so no one goes to rallies during tutorial. However, schools like Lynbrook High School tend to debunk this theory. 
For example, the academic atmosphere at Lynbrook High School mirrors that of Monta Vista and Saratoga. Despite this, Lynbrook still manages to rake in high participation at rallies. 
“The stress here is huge so little things like rallies really help especially for the mental health of the students,” Lynbrook sophomore Alvin Fan said. 
According to Wang, the seniors at Monta Vista are the ones who inspire the rest of the school to be spirited. 
“They are the oldest in the school, so they don’t want to feel like the younger students can beat them,” she said. “They have this sense of pride where they have to win and other classes follow their example.”
Monta Vista students use Facebook as a way to encourage class pride. They often have “spams” on Facebook, in which many students change their profile pictures to the same photo. Their class officers use Facebook class groups to post cheers for rallies and to inform the class about upcoming events.
“The officers are really motivational and pumped and there’s reminders everywhere around school [for school spirit events],” Wang said. 
Monta Vista also emphasizes the importance of dressing up for spirit days in order to win class points and unite the school.
“People really like dress up days; it’s a change in environment so people can get their minds off grades,” Wang said. “If they see their friends doing it, they want to do it too. People at Monta Vista are crazy and bold.” 
 
District-Wide Events
Unlike Saratoga, other schools also emphasize intradistrict spirit and unity. In the Fremont Union High School District, students from high schools such as Lynbrook and Monta Vista participate in events such as IntraDistrict Council (IDC) Fantastics, a district wide rally. When football teams in the district square off each fall, the winner walks away with a special helmet prized by all the schools. 
 
Spirit at private schools
At Presentation High School, teachers are competitive with each other, incentivizing students to attend rallies, which occur about six times a semester. 
“Everyone is always really excited about [rallies], even the staff,” Presentation freshman Ivana Su said. “It’s funny watching the teachers be competitive with each other.”
Su’s homeroom teacher, the facilitator for the freshman class, motivates her students to participate with her hilariously competitive spirit.
One time near the beginning of the year, her class was brainstorming for ideas for their class mascot and someone suggested Ash Ketchum from Pokémon. When the class scoffed at the idea, her teacher retorted, "I kind of like that though, it's like we're telling the seniors 'we gon catch yo ass.'" 
In addition, Presentation competes with other schools in the nation in an annual magazine fundraiser. They were No. 1 in the country this year, raising the most money through a competition between grades to see who could sell the most.
 
Too much spirit?
Even with all of their benefits, spirit events have the potential to go too far. According to Wang, a few years ago at Monta Vista, a group of seniors keyed the cars of various juniors after the junior class beat the senior class in a rally. A similar incident occurred at Lynbrook when, two or three years ago, a few seniors, angered by their loss in the Homecoming competition, slashed the tires of cars that weren’t parked in the senior parking spaces. 
According to Wang and Fan, the Lynbrook and Monta Vista administrations are fearful of overly competitive rivalries. 
“[The seniors slashing the tires] was pretty bad so the administration pretty much rigged Homecoming so that the seniors always get first no matter what,” Fan said. 
Nevertheless, because of their class pride, people still attend these events.
“We just wanna be the best we can especially for an event as big as Homecoming,” Fan said. “We totally got robbed, but it's OK since we love our class enough to still show up.”
For his part, Fan wants to spend as much time as he can with his peers before he graduates. 
“You're only with [your classmates] for two more years, for us at least, and you've grown up with most of these kids,” Fan said. “Chances are you may never see them again in your life, so appreciate them and appreciate the time you have with them now.”
 
 
 
 
 
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