Time consuming, competitive, sleep depriving, dramatic and frustrating – these are all words that can be used to describe Spirit Week in the Upper School. While these days are intended to make the transition back into school after winter break more enjoyable, they can also cause as much anxiety as a normal school week would.
The Pace community at large seems to value the importance of Spirit Week, and many teachers help support it by planning fun activities (such as minimesters) and lightening up on homework. However, others, notably Ms. Smith, have become annoyed with the whole idea of Spirit Week and what it has become. Overall, high expectations may be the source of discontentment over Spirit Week as students tend to romanticize perfecting dances, bonding with their classmates and decorating banners.
Each grade has their own mix of talents that can help them succeed, but no class has ever been able to perfectly master Spirit Week, which can be upsetting for some. While there may be fantastic artists that help design and paint the banner, mistakes and misunderstandings are inevitable. In addition to this, the small budget for underclassmen hinders grades from purchasing sufficient decorating supplies and making proper costumes. The hard work that students put into decorating their designated area of campus is destroyed once the rest of their classmates arrive, which can be frustrating, to say the least.
The Spirit Week skits are equally, if not more, aggravating to put together. The official Spirit Week themes are announced right before exams, and each grade has about two weeks after finals to brainstorm ideas for their skit and choreograph it. There is no way to gain a true advantage of learning the dance ahead of time because most students are out of town during the last week of winter break, which postpones dance practices to the Sunday before school resumes. During rehearsals, students can be disrespectful toward the choreographers and prevent the group as a whole from making progress.
Each class seems to have different approaches to overcoming this issue: yelling at each other, calling certain individuals out, or splitting into smaller groups to be more productive. Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid people talking to their friends, no matter how much effort is put into separating them. Pace’s sense of community actually hinders students’ attention, and the importance of learning the dances is downplayed. The choreographers deserve much more respect for the hours they put into creating dance moves that everyone can perform, tweaking spacing, and trying to maintain order over the overwhelming side conversations of their classmates.
Despite the positive qualities of Spirit Week, I believe it is not nearly as rewarding as it should be. The overall lack of respect for other classes and students negates our hard work and patience. Unfortunately, I think that Spirit Week has become a stressful and frustrating use of time – the opposite of what it was originally intended to be. The potential benefits of showcasing unrecognized talents, strengthening bonding within each class, and promoting leadership have been tossed aside under the pressure Spirit Week exerts.
We shouldn’t give up hope entirely, though, because Pace students really do need a lighthearted approach to ease into the new semester. Perhaps by eliminating the high level of competition, Spirit Week can begin to have a positive impact again. Without the option of failure or last place, students can release the stress of having the “best” banner, decorations, or dance. We should still try hard to put as much effort as possible into our themes, but the reward could simply be a sense of accomplishment and not a ranking.