In a celebration to top off their spirit week, West High students barely went a moment without standing on their feet or cheering at the top of their lungs.
“It’s an important school event,” said Gene Bonella, assistant principal. “It’s very popular with the kids.”
Students gathered in the field house on Friday, March 29 for a two-hour assembly called the Spirit Bowl, which was packed with games, activities and of course — spirit.
Although the students had been battling all week between grade levels, Bonella said it’s ultimately the school coming together that counts.
“It’s important that the kids have an allegiance to the school, a passion,” Bonella said. “This kind of brings them into focus.”
According to Bonella, spirit week has been a West High tradition for more than 50 years. The Spirit Bowl is so popular that past students have tried to come back to join in the event.
“We have to control it security-wise,” Bonella said. “It’s an in-house, in-school only.”
This year, the student government chose a Harry Potter theme. As upperclassmen, seniors and juniors got the colors red and black respectively because those are school colors.
“We started planning for this months in advance,” said Teri King, student government adviser. “T-shirt designs were submitted the end of January, early February.”
The shirts were sold for $6 each. In addition to red and black, white, green and blue designated the classes at the Spirit Bowl. The blue represented Extended Learning Program (ELP) students, advanced seventh and eighth-graders.
“The student body embraces the ELP students,” Bonella said. “There’s a camaraderie shown, and they feel welcomed.”
Another positive thing about spirit week, Bonella noted, is school attendance.
“It has a draw for the kids to be in school,” Bonella said.
For a week, students enjoyed activities that pitted the grade levels against each other in friendly competition. Those included dodgeball, “jousting” in an inflatable pit, lip syncing and pickle spit to see who could spit pickles the farthest.
A favorite traditional competition is called “Stuff the W,” where each grade level tries to get as many students as possible, even if they had to sit on each other’s shoulders, to fit onto the W painted on the basketball court. A new competition this year had students creating a moving, horizontal stairway with PVC pipes in a race against each other.
Diego Ruiz, senior class president, said it was rewarding for the seniors to beat the juniors in a tug-of-war game.
“It’s the one time of the year where we all unite as a school and try to be competitive as a class,” Ruiz said.
Student government members also decorated the highly frequented fourth floor with posters that centered around the Harry Potter theme. A fun activity that traditionally kicks start spirit week is the spirit stick. This year it was called the spirit wand.
“When it was the Olympics theme, it was called the spirit torch,” King said.
The objective is to be the first one to find the spirit stick hidden somewhere on campus.
Chris Newell, earth science teacher, is in her second year at West High. She used to teach in Arizona, and her previous school did have spirit week, but she said “it’s nothing like” the atmosphere at West High.
“All the kids [here] really engage,” she said. “They get excited, and they take pride in their class.”
Newell was one of the teachers who participated in a lip syncing activity.
“I’m really impressed with how involved everyone is, the teachers, staff and students,” Newell said. “It gives everyone an opportunity to be their best.”
Spirit week is such a big event at West High that student body officers from other schools are invited to do the judging in certain competitions.
“A lot of schools come to visit our school during spirit week because we seem to be able to generate a lot of enthusiasm,” King said.
This year the juniors were declared victors.
Bonella said sometimes class pride gets out of hand and turns into bullying and taunting, but when it’s all regulated, the great thing about spirit week is it allows kids to attune their energy to something positive and school-related.
“Ninety-nine percent of the time, it’s healthy for those kids,” Bonella said.
King has been teaching at West High for almost 13 years, and she has seen spirit week carried on strong at West High throughout the years.
“The kids really enjoy it,” she said. “It takes a lot of time and effort, but it’s worth it.”