By Brian Kuo (’18)
Regrettably, the great fun of Spirit Week has run its course. Still, many of us are just relieved to finally escape this dreadful week, which we tolerate because of peer pressure, social expectations, and sheer helplessness. Now is the time to critically reflect upon the implications of such activities.
Some of us deem it necessary to demean others for their apathy towards Spirit Week, mindlessly accusing their peers for being devoid of “school spirit.” I reject this notion of “spirit” with disdain. It is ironic that an alleged personification of school spirit willingly criticizes others for their lack of enthusiasm. Such spirit should be about empathy, understanding, and team building—but apparently, this is easier said than done. If these accusers are truly spirited individuals, why do they not prioritize attendance at and advertisement of all music concerts, dance productions, drama performances, sports games, and other school events? Also, chances are that you are utterly unaware that IASAS Math took place this week.
Much like the vulgarly loud who go as far as to abhor those who are wrongly labelled “anti-social,” I do not hesitate to voice my opinion. Please do not succumb to believing that I am opposed to school spirit, which is certainly an integral part of school life. With that said, how is screaming at a dangerously high volume, playing games more suited for the Lower School, and dressing in a questionable manner an accurate embodiment of school spirit? I see no issue in enjoying school life, nor do I propose the abolition of these festivities, but they must not be performed under the guise of school spirit.
In the past, we have witnessed extensive debate and anger over minor scoring errors. Evidently, for many students, winning is far more important than anything else. In fact, many students choose to promote “class spirit” in place of “school spirit,” creating schisms between our four supposedly united grade levels. It seems as though our aggressive will to triumph over other grade levels has compromised many of our mental faculties, relegating true school spirit to a concept that is merely used to inflict guilt upon others.
If we were to truly embed school spirit into our community, we must desist from the systematic harassment of our “non-conformists.” Unfortunately, many spirit events strengthen cliques and segregate the student body more than they promote bonding between students. Over the past month, I have been pestered innumerable times to join Airband, and this constant badgering is surely enough to drive less resilient students to do the unthinkable—such as partaking in the mass choreography. All jokes aside, there is no doubt that many of us feel unsafe and intimidated in the potentially hostile environment that we foster.
Perhaps it is finally time to acknowledge the thoughts of students who are unable to voice themselves and have no choice but to pathetically sneak about, in both a literal and figurative sense. Unfortunately, I must conclude this unusually heavy article with an inconvenient truth: every TAS student is involved in the community in a different way and demonstrates school spirit with differing methods and degree. Therefore, I propose that we show some respect—both for ourselves and for others.