The Pep Rally always raises two questions with the students and staff, the first being "Why do we have pep rallies?" While I'm unsure about the role of the pep rally in the Golden Age of Schools, it's clear the model feels a bit retro. The notion of putting 1500 teenagers in one room for the sake of cheering on the glory of their school brings back notions of The Beach Boys, "being true to your school", alma maters, and old-fashioned letterman jackets and Key Clubs. While pep rallies 50 years ago were surely not the perfect renditions we see in Grease, they do seem to be a relic of the past. Some relics live on nicely, but this one feel decidedly out of place. The intentions of getting the student body excited about a singular goal and promoting school spirit are great...but for some reason "school spirit" itself sometimes seems like an anachronism.
The second question that always gets asked at pep rallies is "why them?" Pep rallies, with few exceptions, honor the athletes...and that's usually it. The JA team rarely gets a shoutout, the musical cast and crew usually sit on the sidelines, and the robotics club don't demonstrate their wares. And yet, all athletes from the future-pros to the benchwarmers, from the football team, to the ultimate frisbee crew get to walk out and be "recognized". Now, it's true that student-athletes by in large have very busy schedules balancing their home, school, and sports lives, but why do all sports/athletes trump all other organizations by default? Why are sports of any kind the highest ranks?
And yet, despite the normal questions, BW pulled off an excellent pep rally today. After the usual honoring of the athletes, our Assistant AD led a series of non-sensical contests between selected students. Nothing says school spirit like looking ridiculous in front of your classmates. I've posted some videos below (I think the "gone fishing" one was my favorite). Afterwards, the Winter Guard gave an excellent performance of their new routine, "Elements". It was great to see them back in action for the first time since the football season!
While there may be questions behind every pep rally, it's great seeing all the students that participate in life outside of the classroom. As a teacher, it's far too easy to forget that these students are more than a spot in the grade book. They are each capable of amazing things in their own area of expertise. Maybe that's what the pep rally is really for; a school-wide version of standing on our desks to look at things in a new way.
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