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Miramonte Needs School Spirit

May 31, 2011

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Three years ago, at the very first rally of the 2008-2009 school year, rally leaders Harry Forman and Colin Kramer turned to the freshman Class of 2012 to begin the usual grade level cheer.  In theory, the impressionable young’uns were supposed leap to their feet, screaming as if they were watching The Beatles at Shea Stadium. In reality, however, all that transpired was a deafening silence. Paralyzed with fear and insecurity, the then-freshmen Class of 2012 didn’t so much as move a finger, let alone make a sound.

By now, only half the student body can remember those seemingly endless moments of humiliation, but those moments have nevertheless set the tone for the entire atmosphere at Miramonte.

Miramonte students might pride themselves in their stellar academic record, but when it comes to school spirit our student body comes up short. There might be some sort of unity in our shared anxiety and stress, but that just doesn’t compare to some good old-fashioned school spirit. Communal cram sessions at lunch may create camaraderie, but is that really what we want to be our unifying factor?
We have turned high school into something that has to be endured instead of enjoyed. No one is denying that academics are a necessary component to a well-rounded education. But that’s just it. They are only one component. At some point, it’s time to stop playing misery poker, and start rooting for the home team.

We have all fallen prey to a classic case of teenage contrarianism.  Teens no longer think it’s cool to go to school dances or get excited for pep rallies. We treat these classic high school events with the kind of haughty disdain that is normally reserved for, dare I say, homework. Ironically, as academic tensions reach an all-time high, we have turned away from our most reliable support system, leaving our school spirit at an all-time low.

Many pinpoint the demise of Mats TV, Miramonte’s deceased broadcasting channel, as the beginning of the end. A broadcast program, even one as elementary as KOIS, creates a shared culture among the student body, which to this day we still lack. But while the loss of Mats TV undoubtedly only made matters worse, the larger problem is both a lack of variety and a lack of participation in on-campus extracurricular activities. Many extracurriculars appear in a radically reduced form or simply aren’t offered at all due to historically low participation. Where’s the marching band? Where’s the literary journal? Where’s Model UN? Even high school necessities like Yearbook suffer from low participation, and it’s only in the last few years that the hardworking yet small cheerleading squad has been able to rebuild the program.

The student body’s ambivalence is not entirely to blame. The Latin Club and the Public Speaking program are the only clubs on campus with an actual presence and a loyal base. Should it come as a surprise that they also have charismatic, visible faculty members at the helm? If the administration wants to increase school spirit, as we all know they do, they need to also increase the participation of faculty members. Students can’t reasonably be expected to carry Miramonte’s API scores on their backs, feed the starving kids in Africa, and create and lead school-related extracurriculars all by their lonesome.

However, there is one group that hasn’t given up quite yet. The leadership class remains a relic of an era that has long passed, and unsurprisingly they are becoming an increasingly rare breed.  This year three out of four ASB positions ran unopposed, while the Class of 2012 only held elections for President and Treasurer. However, this year’s turnout is a triumph in comparison to last year when all four positions for the Class of 2012 ran unopposed.

The leadership class works tirelessly to increase school spirit every year, but they are frequently met with criticism and condescension. Miramonte students often note that leadership students are the only ones to dress up on spirit days or attend school dances, and falsely use this as evidence that the leadership class is “self-serving.” However, this assumption could not possibly be more ill conceived. The leadership class spends an enormous amount of time desperately searching for fun ways to engage a disinterested student body and create a cohesive community. The problem isn’t the leadership class.  The problem is that their pleas fall on deaf ears.

The most recent example of leadership’s persistence in the face of utter indifference is their attempt to begin a tradition of tailgating at home football games. Considering that tailgating combines the two most American traditions imaginable— eating and competitive sports—one would assume that it would become a big hit with Miramonte students. Shockingly, however, few students bothered to show up, leading rising ASB President Scotty Huhn to refer to the debacle as a “failgate.” You know there’s a problem when a large group of teenagers flat-out refuses to be bribed with cheap food.

We have to drop our egos and recognize that there’s no moral high ground in being too cool for school. Next year, we have an opportunity to rectify the mistake that the Class of 2012 made years ago, so let’s take it. It’s time for a new era to dawn.

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