By Ava Ransbotham

Photo by Evan Ng

With no mask mandates to keep them quiet, seas of blue and orange fill the bleachers on Friday nights and every day a sports team is guaranteed to be going all out for their game-day spirit. As the world emerges from pandemic-induced disconnect, students and teachers are determined to bring back school spirit in full force. 

On April 14 the Pep Rally, a WIN block of competition between the houses and enthusiastic cheering, made its return for the first time since 2019. 

Along with that, for the first time since 2018, a team of South students brought back the Lip Dub, an annual tradition where students dress up and line the halls with their clubs and sports while lip-synching to popular songs. 

Tae Hong, a senior filming the Lip Dub, said she sees it as an opportunity to strengthen South’s community.

“For the seniors, COVID started in freshman year, so we never really felt like we actually belonged in the school,” she said. “We were just at home, by ourselves for a majority of our time.”

Although the fun and high-energy events he remembers from his freshman year disappeared, senior class president Tom Shimoni said that now is the time to bring them back.

“This has been a rebound kind of year,” he said. “We’ve been trying our best to revive the school [spirit].”

Junior class president Kevin Yang helped organize the Lip Dub and the Pep Rally and said the idea behind both of them is the same: community.

“I walk into the pep rally and I really enjoy seeing the size of our school and how everyone’s sitting down in the field house all at once,” he said.

From the very beginning of the planning process, when a group of students pitched the rally to South’s administration, Shimoni said the intent was inter-grade unity.

“We wanted [the pep rally to be] like in Harry Potter, bringing a cohesive feeling to each house amongst all the grades [because often] in high school we can feel clear separation between grades,” he said.

Freshman Ritu Raghavendra said that although she liked the idea of the rally, there were points that felt too forced and that the whole thing felt overly promoted.

“When they ran around with the house names, they were trying to get you hyped up, but really, I didn’t feel any connection,” she said.

However, Yang said he hopes events like the Pep Rally and the Lip Dub will feel more genuine in years to come.

“As a class officer, your job is to instill school spirit, so in some sense, it’s forceful,” he said. “The idea is to create a seedling that will eventually grow into something new.”

Although she didn’t love the rally, Raghavendra said that she is optimistic about inclusivity in future rallies.

“There should have been singing, there should have been more time where people could play more games,” she said. “I felt like everybody should have been included.”

Despite his position as a class officer involved in planning the Pep Rally, senior Dylan Shanahan said he isn’t a huge fan of big events that are designed for the sole purpose of school spirit.

“The way we try and manifest spirit is not necessarily the way that it’s important,” he said. “I was never really into the whole [wearing] blue and orange and stuff like that, but I do feel that it’s important to like feel like you’re at home in this place”

Shanahan said that he doesn’t necessarily believe that school spirit is nonexistent; he said that true school spirit comes in finding a sense of home at South, which is stronger than most people recognize.

 “It’s more the whole community at large that I feel connected to. People are nice and welcoming, and when you have that you don’t really need to bond over the color of [your] shirts,” he said.

English teacher and Passin’ Time coordinator Alan Reinstein said that he agrees: he said that rallying around a sports team isn’t the only way for the student body to feel connected.

“Students have a lot of spirit, it’s just not in the conventional way of school spirit, wearing their colors,” he said.

In terms of that conventional spirit, Shimoni said this is just the beginning of South’s revival. 

“[The Pep Rally] is a step in the right direction,” he said. “We’ve wanted to use the spirit rally and the houses this year to strengthen spirit in our houses and have that be a thing for the future.”

In terms of feeling like a part of a larger community, Shanahan said that unity has never really left.

“That’s what a lot of people are going to miss,” he said. “School breeds community. We’re all sitting in the classes all day together, it’s hard not to become friends.”

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