The Patriot In-Depth: Spirit Week evolves over the years
Sporting bell bottom pants from Goodwill, a sport coat flipped inside out, and vintage sunglasses, science teacher Shane Lawler, class of ’00, struggled to clomp his way to the elevator in his homemade platform shoes.
Lawler nailed blocks of wood to his sneakers, creating the amateur 1980s shoes as part of Decades Day during his senior year Spirit Week. As a student from 1996-2000, the get-up was just one of his “zany costumes” from “back in the day.”
According to Lawler, his perspective on Spirit Week has shifted now that he’s a teacher.
“It seems more hectic now. As a student, it seemed more fun,” Lawler said.
Just as Lawler’s view on the Spirit Week has changed, the week itself has evolved.
According to Spanish teacher Jane Michael, who has witnessed 32 Spirit Weeks, the Homecoming dance previously featured a more formal feel. Homecoming was “like the Prom.” Students arrived in limos and treated themselves to lavish dinners beforehand.
“We would go to dinner before the dance to really nice restaurants. Not Chile’s or Bertucci’s,” Associate Director of Enrollment Ed Maynard, class of ’93, said.
During the late 1980’s to early 1990’s, students had to buy tickets to the dance in couples, creating the need for a date. During this time, the administration “established the Penalty Box,” Michael said. If students arrived to the dance after a set time, they had to sit in a designated area for a half-hour.
Themes for days during Spirit Week festivities have also diversified over the years. When math and science teacher Susan Kraft, class of ’74, was a student, Spirit Week was a one day event with no themes.
Themes such as Farmer Day, Beach Day, and Nerd Day have been explored.
“Beach Day. That was dangerous, if you can only imagine,” Michael said.
“Clash Day is my favorite because it seems to have a lot of spirit to me. What I don’t like is Pajama Day, because everybody is walking around in their pajamas and slippers and I just don’t feel comfortable with that,” English teacher Dick Paaby said.
This year, students voted on the themes to make them “more a part of the process and more like they are choosing their week instead of having it chosen for them,” Senior Class President Jen Kreis said. “We are hoping that students are more inclined to participate because they were a part of choosing the days.”
Maryland Day will be Tuesday, Class Color Day Wednesday, Couch Potato Day Thursday, and Black and Gold Day Friday.
Just as students have gone all out for each theme, the pep rallies have been equally energetic.
“In the ‘80s and ‘90s, the pep rallies were really, really spirited,” Michael said.
At the ‘95 pep rally, religion teacher Margaret Mary Deitz kissed a pig brought in by maintenance man Tommy Blevins on the snout in response to one of the classes winning a competition. After demands from the student body, then Interim Principal Gary Scholl kissed the pig too.
Maynard’s clearest memory from his high school Spirit Weeks came during the pep rally his senior year. The football players were piling on top of each other, and the last player to jump onto the mound broke the wide receiver’s leg.
“We want to bring tradition back to the whole school, but especially to Spirit Week,” SAC President senior Matthew Henderson said.
Some traditions have come and gone, such as floats at halftime during the Homecoming football game. The floats, carrying students from each class, paraded across the field followed by ornamental old cars holding the Homecoming court.
A glaring difference between Lawler’s and Maynard’s times as students is the class rivalry. “It used to be a culmination of everyone coming together for one common theme, one goal: to be part of the JC community,” Maynard said.
“Last year, the attitude [of Spirit Week] seemed different. Ours seems less positive than the pictures,” junior Megan Greig said after looking at pictures from 2000’s Spirit Week.
Upon first witnessing the hoopla of Spirit Week, teachers’ reactions have been unanimous. “I was scared. I was like, ‘what are they doing? This is crazy,’” Michael said.
For math teacher George Appleby, his first experience with Spirit Week in 1971 was a close call.
His first year at JC, Appleby found himself stuck between junior and senior boys. The Vice Principal had to rescue him from what he believes was a potential injury waiting to happen.
Students’ views of Spirit Week is the opposite of the teachers’ views.
“As a teacher, we get mad at students that they can’t focus that week, all the while you were doing the same thing as a student. It’s a double-edged sword,” Maynard said.
“I dread Homecoming week every year. But it’s just a week. Everyone can survive a week,” Michael said.
“I applaud the whole Spirit Week traditions that include Powder Puff, the dance, and spirit days,” Paaby said.
This week-long spirit fest has undergone modifications. Ideas have been scrapped and new ones have been developed, but the one thing that won’t change, according to Maynard, is that “as a student you only have four of them.”
Kailey Tracy is the Copy Chief for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.