When underclassmen usurp upperclassmen in Spirit Week, what happens then?

Vincent Nghiem

Staff Writer 

     Mention this year’s Spirit Week to the juniors, and you might induce within them a sensation akin to post-traumatic stress disorder: hours of video editing, tireless, fruitless efforts to urge people to keep coming to dance practices, and working long hours into the night have defined their months-long efforts. 

     You’d think this dedication would pay off, but to no avail. Months of grueling prep—only to get third place.

     After the final results for Spirit Week 2022 were announced at this year’s homecoming football game, a hollow, resounding feeling of disappointment seemed to wash over the class of 2024 , lamenting the immeasurable effort they put into hopefully achieving, at the very least, second place.

     But as the dust settles and the results of this year’s Spirit Week sink in, questions arise about Spirit Week as a whole. 

     As the juniors reflect upon their loss to the sophomores, a common sense of despondency at the fact that their work was all for nothing seems to envelop them. “I choreographed four of the dances. I was in set. I was part of skit, and I helped to coordinate all the decorations and general spirit for our class,” explains Alana Weinstein (11). She’s the incumbent president of American’s class of 2024. 

     “I think that the sophomores’ win in dances was undeserved because our dances, from what I heard from most people, were really good. The choreography of our dances was done very well. We had more complexity with our dances, and the fact that we had more styles, too. Most of the other styles that we had were also not done badly.” 

     Spirit Week is regarded by many as, ultimately, a celebration of the incumbent senior class. A send-off of sorts that gives them one last opportunity to express their love for their high school lives before they embark upon adulthood. 

     But the popularity of this view results in another reality: excluding a few past exceptions, the seniors’ victory in Spirit Weeks is almost always guaranteed. After all, rewarding the seniors with anything other than first place, knowing that Spirit Week has symbolic value for them, would be like a smack to the face.

     Weinstein agrees. “Previously, I thought it would go by the seniority of the classes.…”

     “I am a little confused on how the judges exactly decided to score everything because I don’t feel like it was well-deserved. I feel like this brought more resentment for me towards spirit week in general just because it’s a lot of effort to actually go through with everything just to still get third place overall as juniors. But it’s not like it’s the sophomores’ fault, like they did a good job and like I’m sure they’re happy to have gotten second place, obviously, but I obviously wish that was us.” 

       It’s not like this hasn’t happened in the past: underclassmen have bested upperclassmen during multiple Spirit Weeks. 

     These issues with Spirit Week, however, have seemed to expose a deeper truth. Spirit Week as a whole seems to be getting less… well, spirited. It’s a downward trend that is evident by simply comparing the performances of older classes, especially the classes of 2019 and 2020, with those of today. As Morning Marches slowly deflate in their numbers and students become more occupied with their own activities rather than their class’s, it’s becoming clear that Spirit Week has entered its twilight hours. So maybe it’s not about the classes as a whole, but about the students themselves who comprise them. 

     Spirit Week has entered a state of jeopardy, marked by an increasing lack of enthusiasm over participation. And when this decrease in passion is combined with the dissatisfaction of losing Spirit Week itself as well as the frustrations many hold towards the lack of transparency displayed by the judges, it becomes evident that Spirit Week might become a thing of the past sooner than we hope. Unless we stoke the flame and reignite our school spirit, we will find that AHS class spirit will completely fizzle out, the last dying spark of a fire that once burned brightly, and what we all know and love as Spirit Week might finally undergo a quiet death. 

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