I took the photo above at my school this week, Spirit Week. Hotchkiss' big rival is Taft, a school that as far as I know is in all ways like Hotchkiss except that they wear red jerseys rather than blue ones. Some adults (and maybe some kids, but I haven't heard from them) at my school don't like spirit week because it "others" people and and elicits some mean sentiments. I hear them, but I think it offers some benefits, too.
I guess I should describe what happens during spirit week so that you know what's getting lauded and criticized at the same time. During this week, we do the following:
- dress up days (twinning, dorm-selected theme, blue&white, clashing, preppy, way-back Wednesday, and "dress like a kid from Taft")
- psych cards go up in the main hallway
- pep rally (in which teams perform choreographed dances)
- bonfire (in which the kids burn a cardboard rhino [Taft's mascot])
- hospitality tents (at which I eat way too much yummy food -- fresh cider doughnuts, hot apple cider, funfetti bars, popcorn, walking tacos [which I call Frito pie, but regional food names are a topic for a future post] )
- all teams that can (Taft has no water polo--or pool-- or thirds girls soccer, for example) play Taft do play Taft. They try their hardest to win. They throw themselves into doing their best.
- last year's alumni come back to campus to see each other, cheer on their teams, and say hi to people
Okay, so that's the whole list. If you're like me, you think most of those are pretty great. If you're like me, you acknowledge that Taft is a good rival not because they're inferior in every way but because they are really just like us. Of course, if they were truly inferior, then our getting excited to beat them in competition would be icky, bullying behavior. Because they're worthy opponents, we can rally around doing our best, right?
And last night, in a surprise move, the Head of School gave us a holiday in honor of winning Taft Day. What an unexpected gift! #thankscraig
So when the kids burn a cardboard rhino or post cards that say things like, "Taft is as disappointing as a saltless pretzel," I can ignore in the first case and laugh in the second. Do you think that spirit week trains the kids into bad ways of thinking about others? Am I being naive to think that the kids know it's all in good fun? Please feel free to share your thoughts.