The Student News Site of Taipei American School




Behind the cheer: the history of Spirit Week


Since the 1970s, TAS has lost many stereotypical school spirit traditions, including homecoming queens and kings and a cheerleading team. Uglier traditions, such as an annual Slave Day and junior cage, have also been erased.

Mr. Arnold, Upper School history teacher and sponsor of the junior class in 1976, said, “Slave Day was really terrible. Often someone who was popular would go for 3000 NT and someone not so popular would go for 20 NT.” On slave day, each senior got up onstage while underclassmen bid on how much money they would pay for that senior to become their slave for the day. This included carrying their books, getting their lunch for them, or tying their shoes. “Not only were there historical reasons, but it made students feel very bad, so slave day ended early in the 1970s,” said Mr. Arnold.

The annual spring and food fairs we are so used to now also never existed 45 years ago. Instead, TAS had a junior carnival to raise money for prom. During this fair it was a tradition for juniors to have a metal cage, and anybody could put someone in the cage for a certain price. “They would pay 200 NT to put someone in the cage, and that person had to pay more to get out,” said Mr. Arnold. “The problem was they would get more friends to put the same person back in the cage for even more money. Sometimes it was like bullying, and for the whole day of the fair, that person had to stay in the cage.”

Luckily, TAS has gotten rid of these traditions, and Spirit Week has evolved into dress up days, class games, and activities like airband and cheer. Back in the 1970s, Spirit Week consisted of a homecoming dance, a bonfire, floats, and the most important soccer game of the year against Morrison Academy. “Lots of teachers and students went to these kind of events, and it wasn’t because they were getting points,” said Mr. Arnold, “It was simply because they wanted to go, which is very different from now.”

Spirit Week has stayed fairly similar since the 90s. The most recent change to Spirit Week occurred just this year, with Student Government deciding to alter the point system. Brendan Wong (11), Upper School president, said, “Last year Edmund Tong, who was in charge of keeping track of results, proposed a new system. A major advantage for the new system is that winning a category doesn’t matter as much. Grades have to try to get as many points in all different areas, and participation is even more crucial because every point counts.”

Although now Spirit Week is a competition between the grades, Brendan wants students to focus on having fun. He said, “A true testament of our school spirit would be to strip away the competition element of spirit week and see how many people still come dressed up. Perhaps that will happen in the future, who knows?”


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