Where’s Your School Spirit?
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After over a year spent toiling through virtual school, Stuyvesant has been in dire need of a spirit boost. With a new school year comes a new opportunity to participate in Stuyvesant’s annual Spirit Week, hosted by the Student Union (SU). This year’s themes for Spirit Week were Pajamas, Decades, Black Tie, Color Wars, and Halloween costumes. Despite a general sentiment that Stuyvesant lacks school spirit, there was an increase in participation throughout the week.
As the name suggests, the intention of the event, which takes place during the last week of October to culminate in the annual Halloween costume contest was to garner a feeling of unity and school spirit. “The purpose of spirit week is to create community across a very large school that often struggles to find unity across grades and classes. [You may walk down] the hallway and [see] someone with the same color t-shirt in color wars, and [not even realize] that they were in your grade,” senior and SU president Shivali Korgaonkar said.
The themes were chosen through a Google Form that the Student Union (SU) sent to the student body. Out of the themes offered, Black Tie Day was the most popular among those who participated. “My favorite thing was Black Tie Day because it was very fun wearing a dress and heels everywhere, and I needed the excuse to dress up,” junior Isabella Chow, who participated in all five days, said. “So afterward I thought, I want more days like these so I can just come in with a dress and no one is going to be bothered by it.”
Part of what made some students more eager to participate than others is because they already had clothes that matched the theme. “I like the topics they chose and also I had clothes that already fit,” junior Cruz Warshaw said.
The event also served as an introduction for underclassmen to Stuyvesant tradition. “It was a good way to have fun. I’m a sophomore, but this was my first year actually in person at Stuy,” sophomore David Sinscalco said. “It fosters a sense of community. [...] Everybody dresses up and people just roll with it,”
Freshman Louise Wang added, “The event was successful because a ton of people participated in Spirit Week. In all my classes, I would say that around 50 percent of the people participated in the event.”
Students who participated enjoyed the selection of themes especially compared to those of previous years. “I know [in] freshman year, they were all really similar and it was kind of frustrating being like, ‘What am I supposed to do for meme day?’ and I ended up not participating for half of the days,” Chow said. “It was a right amount of crazy and right amount of not crazy that you don’t know what to do with the theme.”
Despite the number of participants, many students chose not to dress up, perhaps due to the level of effort participating required. “It kind of boils down to one of two things. One was the communication aspect where some people didn’t see it and didn’t have time to participate. I also do think it was the fact that some themes weren’t the most accessible in the world,” junior and SU vice president Ryan Lee said.
Though the apathy may be viewed negatively, those who didn’t participate in Spirit Week as much enjoyed watching students who did. “I liked seeing what other people wore more than participating myself. The event is also kind of a pick-me-up, especially during October, when there’s a lot going on in terms of workload and college apps,” senior Ellen Pehlivanian said.
Siniscalco, who participated in Color War and Halloween Costume days, cites the level of effort required to dress up as a reason for him not participating on the other days. “Honestly, on Monday, I don’t really have an actual pajama and I was 50 percent sure that would have been dress coded if I wore what I normally did,” he said. “On Tuesday and Wednesday, it was just laziness.”
However, Siniscalco added that if students were more willing to step out of their comfort zone there could have been an increase in participation “For me, part of it was just too much effort on some of the days,” he said. “Like the formal attire, I could’ve done that, but it was raining. I think in general though, maybe part of it is embarrassment, but I think people are chill at Stuy so just do stuff and it’ll work out.”
Some suggested that the themes could have been more popular if they were more basic. “Some people were just tired and didn’t feel like it, or they didn’t like the themes that were chosen,” Warshaw said. “Maybe if it was more generic stuff, people would participate more, but it would also be less fun.”
Students also suggested that more inclusive themes could have increased participation “They could’ve chosen themes that are more accessible to everyone in general, not just the couple of kids that have lots of clothes lying around,” Chow said.
Others also recommended providing guides to help students choose what to wear. “I'm in Fashion Club and for Black Tie day, I had nothing to wear until I saw the Fashion Club’s Instagram post a guide to help people choose what to wear. I thought it was very helpful and gain[ed] more confidence knowing others have probably based their outfits around that post too,” junior Venus Wan, who participated in all five days, said.
Overall, the event was as enjoyable for spectators as for those who dressed up. “Personally I found it really fun walking down the hallways and up and down escalators seeing what people were wearing,” Korgaonkar said. “It was an entertaining week and I found it to be very stress relieving which is what I hope other people found as well.”
The SU hopes to increase participation in the next Spirit Week, which will occur later in the school year. “The next spirit week will probably be sometime mid-second semester,” Korganokar said. “I imagine that [in] the second Spirit Week since people saw how popular the first one was, they will be more likely to participate in the second one just because they know that it is part of Stuy culture to participate in Spirit Week.”
Wan added, “For those who participated in very few events or didn’t participate at all, I can kind of resonate with them because they [probably] either didn’t have anything to wear, weren’t confident enough, or just didn’t care at all. But Spirit Week only comes once a year, so I’m going all out.”