■ Metro Service / Contributed
Schools are often at the heart of a community. They are centralized places where people gather and friendships are formed. Creating an environment where school spirit is strong can be crucial to building a thriving community.
School spirit can make people smile and bring them together for a common goal. Creating a balanced environment in schools also can help students feel more comfortable and happier about attending class each day.
The National Federation of State High School Associations reports that, along with showing support for their school, high school students with school spirit perform better academically, are more engaged in social and civic matters and are generally happier than other peers. Those findings were part of a survey conducted by Harris Poll and involved 1,500 students who were asked about key factors like pride, academics and self-esteem at school.
Activities for building spirit can range from simple things like wearing silly hats or rooting on the sports team to more complex activities, such as community service projects. The following are some ways students and educators can foster stronger school spirit by encouraging communities to get involved.
Invite guest speakers. Invite local community members to discuss their experiences or alumni share their memories of attending the school. Having students learn from these people can provide incentive for them to do well in school.
Celebrate diversity. Various months or weeks of the year are dedicated to celebrating particular ethnic, cultural or special groups. Tie school spirit occasions into these events to commemorate the unique diversity at your school.
Host “School Spirit Fridays.” An easy way to inspire school spirit is to ask faculty and students to wear school colors or attire featuring the school mascot each Friday. A short Friday pep rally also can excite the student body.
Raise money for charity. Penny Wars are a great way to raise funds for special interest projects and charities. Homerooms collect as many pennies as they can for a week. Rival classes “sabotage” by throwing nickels, dimes and quarters into the buckets. The pennies are tallied, and the other currency is subtracted from the total. The class with the most money wins a pizza party, and the funds raised are then donated.
Choose a new mascot. Ask students to vote for a new school mascot. While they are exploring the possibilities, kids can learn about unique or endangered animals in the process.
Hold door-decorating contests. Students can decorate their classroom doors to coordinate with holidays or special themes. The winner receives a prize, such as more recess time or no-homework passes.
These are just a few ways to boost school spirit. Schools can find more ideas to inspire school spirit by creating committees to connect with students and members of their communities.