Spirit Week 2017: Senate ends the class cheer


Next week, weeks of preparation will come to a head and competitive tensions will run high, as the annual phenomenon known as Spirit Week rolls around again. Newly introduced dressup days include Animation Day (Wednesday), and Sports Day (Thursday). Spirit Week culminates in Friday’s special assembly schedule, featuring two main attractions. The winning Class Video will be announced and shown–this year, each grade incorporated one minute of lip-syncing into their production. In addition, each grade will perform the much-anticipated Airband dances,which are inspired by the theme of musical productions. The freshmen will feature music from Hamilton, the sophomores from Hairspray, the juniors West Side Story, and the seniors Grease.

Participating in their last Spirit Week, many seniors are eager to make the most of their final year and continue the winning streak of senior classes. Carmel Ciceron (12) says that “after losing Field Day to the juniors, the seniors are definitely motivated to do well.”

In fact, the seniors scored their first victory back in December, when the Upper School Senate voted to discontinue the 1-minute rehearsed “Class Cheer” that has been a staple of previous Spirit Weeks. The move was proposed by the senior ClassGov team. Bryan Koh (12), senior Vice-President, said that he wanted to do away with the traditional cheer because “the juniors were too good at the traditional cheer, while we weren’t good, so we had to get an edge.” Coming off their Field Day victory and a 2nd place finish in the 2016 Cheer component, the junior class argued to retain the old structure, but ultimately were defeated by three class votes to one.

This switch has shocked many, who have been accustomed to the conventional Cheer since their Middle School days. After learning of the change, Shantih Whiteford (11) said:  “[The class] cheer is the main feature of Spirit Week!” To replace the formal cheer, grades will now be scored based on how well they cheer during the Monday and Wednesday Spirit Week assemblies. The scoring rubric is based on enthusiasm, participation, presentation, and creativity. The assignment of fixed time slots for cheers has been removed; instead, both Monday and Wednesday assemblies are free time for any grade to cheer.

Results of the revamped Cheer competition will also be announced on the Friday of Spirit Week, and without the old Cheer format to deter them, the class of 2017 has shown confidence in their chances of emerging victorious. “We’re going to win. We’re going to beat the juniors in all the events,” says Bryan Koh.

Senior classes have indeed won nine of the last ten Spirit Weeks, giving rise to the popular theory that Spirit Week is manipulated in the seniors’ favor. In particular, some freshmen consider the results of their first Upper School Spirit Week to be a foregone conclusion. “People tell me that seniors always win, because it’s rigged,” said freshman Jesse Whiteford. Similarly, Andy Xu (9) said, “The results are pretty much set in stone… even my advisor told me that seniors always win and freshmen always get last.” When asked about these rumors, though, Serena Yiin replied, “Spirit Week is in no way rigged. We are very transparent in our scoring–all scores can be found on our website.”

Spirit Week is a long-running TAS tradition, but has changed significantly throughout the years. “Before I got here, it was a week to create school spirit to prepare for a sports tournament,” Dr. Long, Dean of Students and StuGov sponsor says. “Now, though, it’s become a way to express class spirit – a chance for kids to enjoy something different, have fun, and join their class in games and activities.” Serena also urges students to enjoy the experience and take a step back from the competitive element of Spirit Week, saying that “it’s more about having a good time – whether it be through taking cute pics in PJs, seeing teachers dress up, or participating in air band – and I hope everyone remembers that!”