Attendance for spirit events should not be mandatory

May 3, 2017 — by Michael Zhang

As I made my way to the junior-senior PowderPuff game on March 31, it was clear that many students decided not to attend. There were many who had not even considered going and just stayed in the quad for lunch. At the event, a large portion of the bleachers was empty and the mood was unenergetic, even with principal Paul Robinson and assistant principal Brian Safine offering commentary over the PA system.

Sometimes Saratoga High is clearly lacking in school spirit. For example, during rallies, I often see students, including some of my friends, hanging out in classrooms. Sometimes, when I ask them why they don’t attend the rally, they simply tell me that it is a waste of time.

One suggestion that people sometimes make is to make these spirit events mandatory, but the truth is that mandatory participation would only make things worse.

Simply put, while some students are enthusiastic about school spirit, many others would rather do other things such as study or go off campus during this time. These same students see spirit events as a waste of time and will not actively participate, no matter .

If spirit events were made mandatory, many students would find them to be nuisances, especially if these students need to study for an important test or complete homework for an upcoming period. Forcing unwilling students to go to rallies would only serve to build resentment toward spirit events.

In addition, a mandatory school spirit policy would be near impossible to enforce. For instance, at rallies, it would not be practical to take attendance, and as a result, students will have no incentive to show up.

Instead of coercing students to join rallies or other events, the staff and leadership students should find ways to encourage students to willingly attend these events. For example, teachers could adjust their due dates, close their classrooms or avoid putting tests on spirit days so students don’t feel obligated to study during spirit events.

One way of encouraging attendance would be creating a reward system for those who show up. A straightforward and inexpensive implementation of this would just be holding raffles and giveaways at random events, so students who find spirit events unappealing would have a reason to attend.

Social media or other forms of promotion could also be used to notify students about an upcoming event.

Previews for larger events would also be effective. For instance, if the spirit week is “Superhero Week,” the leadership team could dress up as superheroes on the Friday before. Done right, these previews could spread awareness about a spirit event and capture the interest of some students who otherwise may not have participated.

In contrast, some other schools, such as Lynbrook, seem to have much more school spirit. According to Lynbrook sophomore Austin Lei, nearly all students attend events, including rallies, largely due to peer pressure and encouragement.

“I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing, but everyone tells me to go [these events], so I feel bad if I decide not to attend,” he said.

Encouraging students to go to spirit events rather than coercing them would help create a more positive atmosphere during these events — a vital step in making our school a more spirited one.

 

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