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Can Rising School Spirit Remain?

Lancer Cheerleaders run out of the tunnel, opening the Pep Rally

To kick off the new school year, Gilmour held their annual Fall Sports Pep Rally and Cookout. Needless to say, it’s a Gilmour tradition. Fall sport athletes were introduced, faculty and students of all grades came together for a meal, and GA spirit wear was everywhere. The school spirit and hype generated by this event can last for several days, even weeks. How can Gilmour maintain its high level of enthusiasm throughout the year?

The purpose of the Pep Rally was “to get people fired up about fall sports,” said Mr. James Kazel, Guidance Counselor. “And I think if you get people fired up about fall sports, it gets the students fired up….so, it can just be a ripple effect.”

This event took place at the very beginning of the school year for all the families to give visual witness to Gilmour’s supportive and energized community. Ultimately, the tone set in the fall is seen as being very important to how the rest of the year will unfold.

The 2017 Pep Rally promoted school spirit by drawing on the student body to participate. All the fall sports were represented: both soccer teams, tennis, golf, volleyball, both cross country teams, football, and cheerleading. The cheerleaders opened the early evening with cheers to celebrate and inspire.

“There was a lot of energy, and a lot of hype,” said Kazel, who entertained the crowd as the event’s MC. He announced all of the sports teams, coaches and captains. Faces lit up when Kazel announced that so-and-so was ‘in the house!’

Mr. Sean O’Toole, Athletic Director, recognized that a significant part of the students’ enthusiasm came from Kazel because he did a tremendous job “pumping the audience up.” O’Toole gave witness to Gilmour’s spirit when he said that this is only his second year at the Academy. He thinks the rally was every bit as big as last year. O’Toole said, “What’s hard with a school our size is so many kids participate in so many sports [that] it’s hard to get the whole student body together to support each other. That’s one evening when everyone is there to support each other and be together.”

It’s a major goal of Gilmour’s athletic programs to get the student body engaged in their friends’ sports. Mrs. Kathleen Kenny, Head of School, said, “It’s a great way to say to all the athletes that work so hard, we respect you, we admire you, we applaud you, and our presence here tonight is giving witness to our support of you.”

At the Pep Rally, each individual enjoyed the event in his or her unique way–each way showing school spirit. Kazel said, “I think it’s a combination of all that we offer during the evening’s events that draw people to the Pep Rally and cookout. It feeds the people, feeds the soul, and feeds recognition.”

While the Pep Rally was able to create such a joyous and energized atmosphere, it begged the question; how can this spirit last? The issue lies in the fact that this school may decline as the long year continues. When spring comes along, there may be a loss in the gas tank, and the energy generated by the Pep Rally may seem faded.

This poses a challenge to the Gilmour community in terms of continuing positivity throughout the school year. By the time winter arrives, fewer students attend home and away games,  and students’ enthusiasm may fall to the wayside.

Kenny said, “One thing that concerns me is you have this wonderful exposure for fall athletics, and in the last few years, we’ve been able to create some exposure for the winter athletes by doing things only around admission events.” The lesser publicity and attention in the later seasons seems to directly correlate to a possible declination of school spirit. So, what are some ways to keep school spirit on the rise?

Kenny offered her input on promoting school spirit throughout the rest of the year. “My advice would be figure out ways in which you can sustain spirit in more small events,” she said. This includes possibly starting a new tradition of winter or spring sport pep rallies. Furthermore, to keep students motivated during the school day, a group of students could organize spirit events. Kenny said that years ago the Academy had a Spirit Club that was really good about organizing ways for students to get exposure to do things in support of each other.

Needless to say, school spirit takes effort. The Fall Sports Pep Rally stimulated spirit for the beginning of the school year and hyped up students, athletes, and faculty for the athletic programs. Before this school spirit drains as the year progresses, effort needs to be put in place to keep it on the rise.

Spirit Week begins on Monday, October 2. Students are given the opportunity to vary their dress each day and simply enjoy being valued by the Gilmour community. Spirit Week concludes with the Homecoming Pep Rally. All are encouraged to keep the school spirit going strong!

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Senior Ava Thomas is excited to join The Lance in the fall of 2017. Ava lives in Chesterland with her parents, brother, and pet horses, cats, and snake named Jenga. Ava is heavily involved in the community. She is a two-time state finalist for track, the owner of a school business, a volunteer at Herps Alive reptile rescue, and a two-time state qualifier for speech. Ava competes in Informative Speaking and enjoys focusing on global issues and current events. Ava’s favorite class is AP Biology, and she hopes to pursue pre-med and/or business and economics in college.