From mid September to October, a main focus for students in many high schools is the homecoming dance and football game. The week of homecoming in other schools can be very exciting, with different themes for students to dress up for every day. Pace saves this tradition for Spirit Week in January, where students not only dress up according to themes each day, but perform grade-specific dances (or skits) at the end of the week.
For those who are new to Pace, Spirit Week is arguably the most notable tradition during the school year. It’s so important that the planners of Spirit Week work on it throughout the year, whether it be brainstorming about the dance or the decorations. The theme is usually thought of months in advance, and typically is based on a movie. For example, past themes have included “Toy Story,” “The Great Gatsby” and “The Incredibles.”
Each grade is given a budget to spend on costumes and decorations, and Spirit Week brings out the creativity in students because they often make the costumes. A panel of judges made up of Pace faculty members judge each grade on their banner and dance. “I really like the idea of Spirit Week even though I don’t know much about it yet,” said junior Karishma Pradhan, a new student to Pace this year. “I think it’s special because my old school didn’t have anything really like Spirit Week.”
Artists in each grade are truly put on the spot to show off their talent for the banner. Banners are easily one of the most important parts of Spirit Week because they are displayed on the railings of the track in the Inman Center for weeks. The banners increase in size based on grade, so the freshmen have the smallest banner in the Upper School whereas the seniors are allowed the biggest banner. These banners add to the stress of Spirit Week because students stay up late at night in order to finish them on time. “Painting the banner is really fun,” said sophomore Meritt Ann Glass. “It is stressful sometimes if I can’t find the right color or I’m painting the wrong thing, but I really enjoy it.”
The stress of Spirit Week is often comparable to the stress of exam week because students have to deal with studying and homework while also multitasking on the work that comes with Spirit Week. But the academic workload is usually lighter for Spirit Week because it is the start of the second semester. The skits take place in the Inman Center, where the entire school can watch, which provokes fighting for gym space when grades are rehearsing their dances.
Practices for these dances can last anywhere from one to four hours on multiple days, depending on how much work needs to be done. They often overlap with sports practices, which can cause difficulties because some student-athletes go directly from their sports practice to practice for Spirit Week, not allowing them much free time. However, the enjoyment of Spirit Week normally trumps the exhaustion, as is the case with senior Mark Anthony Sommerville. “I don’t really get stressed,” said Mark. “I personally enjoy it because I like to dance.”
Despite all the stress and extra work the students endure, most students say that it is well worth the end result. Students typically have a lot of fun with Spirit Week, and look forward to it every year.