Looking back at Spirit Week 2019

The seniors cheer during the first assembly of Spirit Week. On this day, designated as "Squad Day," the entire Class of 2019 was dressed to the theme of "Seniors" (in reference to elderly people.) They managed maintain a 100% dress-up participation rate throughout the entire week. Photograph by Timothy Dixon ('20).

Spirit Week 2019 saw the juniors and the seniors in a tight race to be the most spirited class of the year. Eventually, the seniors claimed the Mana Cup with just six points ahead of the juniors.

They took first place in five categories: Banner, Platform Jam, Mascots, and NHS Donations. This winning combination, along with their performance in Tug of War (tied for second), Capture the Flag (second), and 100 percent participation in every day’s dress up theme, allowed them to surge into first place.

In second place, the juniors ended the week with top marks in Pepper Squad, Pepper Squad Cheer, All-School Cheer, and Capture-the-Flag. Junior Class Council President Alyssa Mayeshiro said, “We may not have won the Mana Cup, but we definitely had lots of fun together, and that’s what’s most important. The week required all hands on deck, and I was thrilled to see everybody contributing in some way. We couldn’t have accomplished everything we did without the juniors’ hard work, effort, and cooperation.”

Student Council President Rena Takatsuka, who organized the week’s events with her council, is proud of how well Spirit Week went this year. She said, “The grades were all really respectful of each other and had fun throughout the entire week while cheering for their own class as well as the others. I think the class councils in particular did great by encouraging their grade to dress up and participate throughout the week by also putting an emphasis on having fun.”

While Senior Class Council President Dakota Gavin is happy with how Spirit Week turned out for his class, he feels that the scoring system needs to be reevaluated and changed. “Thursday’s and Friday’s point categories [aren’t] well thought out and instead prove to be a disservice to all the people who actually work hard on Spirit Week,” he said, referring to categories like All-School Cheer, Pepper Squad, and Pepper Squad Cheer. Sophomore Daniel Jurek was similarly critical of the scoring system. He said, “The All-School Cheer requires such little preparation and creativity, yet it’s still worth more than other categories that take much more time and dedication, like Banner.” Gavin suggested, “Separate the class cheer so that it’s a separate scoring category from Pepper Squad and decrease the amount of points that All-School Cheer is worth.”

Freshman Class Council President Amanda Sato had the unique challenge of uniting a class that was participating in Spirit Week for the first time as high schoolers. Looking back at the week, she feels that the biggest problem was that “some people felt very bitter towards those who didn’t want to participate as much.” Since Dress-Up Day points rely on an entire grade’s participation, class councils often bring extra clothes and props in order to ensure everyone’s participation. However, over the years, Spirit Week has become so competitive that grades have now taken it up a notch by trying to force everyone to dress up. Jurek, who thinks things have gotten out of hand, said, “Let the people who don’t want to participate do what they want.”

This year, in an attempt to resolve this issue, the Student Council decreased the number of points that Dress-Up Days are worth. Not everyone thinks this helped the issue. Senior Tess Wakabayashi thinks that this just made the competition between each grade even greater due to the close race in terms of points. Student Council Advisor Tony Traughber acknowledged that there is no easy solution. “It’s a difficult issue to solve because we just want to find a way to encourage school spirit without students forcing others to dress up against their will. So, it’s a good conversation to have and think about in order to see what some of the best alternatives or options are,” he said.

Just like last year, the seventh graders were exempt from participating in Pepper Squad. While middle school teachers believe this decision allows the students to gain experience by watching the upperclassmen do it first, seventh grade mascot Hudson Kobayashi disagrees and feels that they should be given the chance to learn by doing. Kobayashi said, “It was very hard to get everyone’s attention. But I think if we got to do Pepper Squad with everyone else, it would help bring our grade together more and allow us to bond.”

One aspect of Spirit Week that has remained the same over the years is the Homecoming Game. Regardless of the intense competition that Spirit Week creates, the entire school always comes together to finish the week with the basketball Homecoming Game. As this year’s boys game ended with a loss to Punahou, the senior mascots led the entire school in the alma mater, in a reminder that everyone was part of the HBA family.

Even though Gavin is critical about the Pepper Squad scoring system, he believes that this year’s experience was a big improvement from previous ones. “This year, I felt as if there was more focus on competing for excellence between grades rather than one grade adjusting their entire performance to appeal to the judges. It’s not fun when one class ‘plays the game’, so to speak, with their only intention being to win the Mana Cup,” he said.

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