Stuy School Spirit: Is It Enough?
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Across not only the city but also the country, Stuyvesant is known for its long history of intense academic rigor and well-performing students, but our school is more than just that. There are many communities within Stuy, ranging from a variety of clubs to sports teams, each with its identities and cultures. The sense of camaraderie within these said communities is very strong. However, if you zoom out, Stuy lacks overall school spirit, which is harmful to our high school experiences. Not only does it prevent students from achieving their maximum educational potential, but it also prevents students from connecting with others whom they might not typically meet and creating a sense of belonging within the school.
I’m on the lacrosse team, and I go to other schools for games practically every week. At those other schools, their teams almost always have a significant crowd of classmates cheering for them throughout the game. I am still constantly surprised when I see these crowds, which has led me to wonder: If the games were home games, would we have a huge crowd?
Off the top of my head, I can think of two big reasons why Stuy would not have these crowds for a typical season game. One reason is simply that Stuy kids have so much on their plates, whether it’s tests or homework, and we don’t have time to trek to Pier 40 or Randall’s Island,the lacrosse team’s home field. Another big reason is our school location. Stuy has a prime location in the heart of downtown Manhattan, which gives students so many things to do after school with their friends other than watching a lacrosse game. However, the schools that have big crowds do not have many things to do around them, giving students a more limited choice of after-school activities, one of which is showing up to school sports games.
Displaying school spirit is oftentimes associated with “cringiness.” I, myself, am guilty of not engaging with school spirit throughout middle school and at Stuy, whether it was not participating in spirit week or not attending sports games. When having school spirit is ascribed to being “uncool,” this discourages people from participating in school gatherings, which hinders community-building within the student body.
Stuy is also profoundly competitive, both for classes and for college admissions, which can create a sense of isolation, further discouraging unity and support for others. Because we are so competitive, I have seen my friends and fellow students feel the need to only support teams that they are a part of. Though this competitive spirit is part of what makes Stuy “Stuy,” we could still keep our sense of competition while building school unity. Additionally, studies have also shown that engagement in school spirit can correlate to a student's academic success, and students with school spirit tend to end up top of their class. One study even found that 75 percent of students with “school spirit” performed better on a test than students with a lack of school spirit. Though the enormous size of Stuy makes it harder to maintain a sense of school spirit, it also makes it more essential to build the spirit to keep connections between all 3,000+ individuals.
Moreover, practically every Stuy sports team has a different mascot. From the girls’ lacrosse team, whose mascot is the Huskies, to the track mascot, the Greyducks, it seems like we were never set up to be a united school, furthering the divides mentioned earlier. Some sort of action needs to be taken to make all the Stuy sports teams more uniform, such as changing mascots, to make our school cohesive and bond students who are on different sports teams.
Despite all this, there are still so many things we can do to promote Stuy spirit. For example, the school could hold a field day, more constant pep rallies in the gyms either after school or during homeroom periods, incentivize attending school spirit activities, and so much more.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the Stuy sports community itself is very tight-knit. Just last week, the school held a sports banquet, but this sense of spirit can be extended past just members of the sports community. In the future, we could hold banquets once per semester. To incentivize people to attend future pep rallies, we can have a model similar to the sports banquet, where food was offered and raffle prizes were provided, but people who aren’t part of a team can go. Perhaps the Stuy sports community can create an award system with prizes that encourages people to attend sporting events for various teams. Depending on the number of games you attend, you unlock certain levels, therefore unlocking more prizes.
By encouraging school spirit, we can create a sense of belonging for each other, as we are all in this high school journey together. Stuyvesant can become a healthier environment where students can form a sense of pride in their school.