The Spirit Participation Gap

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An M-A tradition, spirit days are a way to build school spirit and unity. However, the buzz around campus at the beginning of this school year has surrounded the inequalities in student participation. Many complain about the lack of students dressed up. Others claim the themes were not advertised. Upperclassmen criticize sophomores and freshmen for not participating. If you talk to leadership students, the group in charge of organizing spirit days, you get varied responses.

Angela Chan, junior class co-president and leadership student, expressed the class’s efforts to find the most effective strategy to advertise spirit days to all students. When asked about what types of advertising are prioritized by leadership for spreading the word, she mentioned, “We are trying to get social media out to every grade.”

Chan went on to add that just last week, leadership appointed students from both the sophomore and freshman class to run social media accounts specifically focused on informing underclassmen of spirit days and other leadership run events. Chan added that a point of emphasis for social media representatives has been to, “follow everyone, not just their friends” on the various leadership run accounts to evenly spread the word about events across grade levels.

Students dressed up for Jersey Day. Credit: Heath Hooper / M-A Chronicle

Senior Abby Goudey, head of spirit days for leadership, had similar views on spirit day advertisement and participation. She too brought up the use of social media, specifically Instagram, to raise awareness among students of all grades, and referred to “informal” promotional videos on M-A Today being another tool leadership has found effective in advertising these events.

Despite being in charge of the organization and promotion of spirit days, Goudey acknowledged that many students don’t dress up. Factors she brought up that cause students not to participate were that many students “feel that school isn’t the place… to dress up, they [were not aware of] the dress up day, or didn’t have anything to wear.”

Goudey voiced that some of these issues are completely acceptable and unavoidable, but noted that leadership has made an effort to make spirit days more accessible to all students by making simpler themes such as color days, which do the same to unify the student body and promote school spirit.

But not all leadership students feel that spirit days do a good job of bridging the gap between M-A students. Junior Milo Yue shared that while he believes that leadership does do a sufficient job in advertising spirit days, the result is always the same people from the same groups dressing up, and that there is a “lack of a culture bridge” resulting from dress-up days. The reason behind this, he cited, was that the students in leadership are almost all from the same cultural background and that the class struggles to make “connections with students from other backgrounds.”

But Yue did state that the lack of participation is a school-wide issue, not the fault of the leadership class— “The school in general has trouble merging the student body.”

Yue also brought up that dressing up in theme takes effort, and that the leadership class can only do so much to motivate participation.

After talking to leadership students, one thing was clear: their ultimate goal is to promote school unity. All three used the words, “bridging the gap” when discussing the class’s motivation for organizing dress-up days and other spirit events. When discussing the motivation behind spirit events, Goudey explained leadership’s “aim to encourage as much of our student body as possible.”

While the level of participation for spirit days is not as high as leadership hopes, it’s clear that spirit days unite the student body to a certain degree.

On September 11th Michael Amaroso, head of student activities, sent out a school-wide email with an imbedded google form that gives students the opportunity to send in their own ideas for spirit day themes. Students interested in sharing their input should send in their ideas.

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