As a little girl I spent nearly every Friday night under the lights, enveloped in the sights and sounds that make up the mystique of high school football. They reverberate in my memory, parents hollering and helmets clashing while the bass drum kept time with the school song. The sports symphony often was accompanied by the chorus of students battling between bleachers, screaming, “We’ve got spirit, yes we do — we’ve got spirit, how about you?” This chant typically evoked opposing student bodies to a near frenzy, eager to establish their supremacy simply by elevating the decibel level. While mom grimaced at the noise, I loved it all — except maybe the occasional jeers directed at the coach, whom I called dad. Just when an appropriate retort came to mind, mom would give me the evil eye and I’d promptly shut my mouth, and listen instead to the cheers.
Homecoming was especially exciting, and this week I again felt the electric undercurrent of the event, prompted initially by the buzz at the middle school about the upcoming spirit week (that I have been duly informed by my youngest must be referred to as “PRIDE week”*) and furthered by the near gleeful tips offered by seasoned homecoming dress shoppers, advising on where to find perfect dance attire. Just yesterday thoughts of dances and dresses were distant musings. Now, they loom on tomorrow’s horizon.
More than just the fanfare, the upcoming festivities caused me to consider why school spirit matters, and what characteristics of our alma maters warrant “coming home” to. For homecoming week it may be nostalgia for a simpler time in life that plays a central role. But school spirit is more than conjuring up our youthful memories. School spirit is important because it gives our kids the chance to be unabashedly enthusiastic about where they spend the majority of their days. Wikipedia defines alma mater as “someone or something providing nourishment.” Daily, our local schools are the place where most kids go for all kinds of nourishment. It seems plenty of good can come out of focusing on the positive messages, influences and people they encounter there, and to realize just how fortunate they are — we are — to have schools, events and teachers that merit celebration. Sure, there’s always room for improvement, but school spirit, or pride, goes far in motivating our kids and our schools down a path of success.
It clicked for me recently when I experienced a brief homecoming of sorts, heading back to the girls’ elementary school to share in the El Grito celebration. Even though the race gets exponentially harder each passing year, the welcoming smiles of teachers, staff and friends still working their way through the primary years literally made my heart swell. Fostering school spirit allows kids to delight in the institution that has their best interest at heart. It is, after all, the place where they will learn about getting up after a fall, or finding a friend in someone who is unlike anyone they’ve ever known before.
So, as SHS heads into homecoming next week know that our community will be cheering for you all, waxing nostalgic about a time when we could run (almost) as fast you do, and when the future spread before us like a football field, waiting to be conquered. We are proud of you. And yes, honey, I really will try to call it PRIDE week, but it’s still all about spirit to me.
*P – Positive mental attitude; R – Respect; I –Include Others; D – Dedication to E – Excellence.
Cindy Bargell is a mom and attorney who lives outside of Silverthorne with her husband and two daughters and welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.