Spirit Week Returns in Full Form for 2022
A dynamic Battle of the Bands. Complex music videos. After-school volleyball games. Attendance competitions at school athletic events. Grade-wide color coordination and themed dress-ups. Elaborate forum decorations. A grade vs. grade game of Greenhills Jeopardy. Walk-off dance routines, complete with a surprise appearance from the faculty. Spirit points being awarded left and right.
All that, and more, was part of Greenhills’ annual Spirit Week, which took place fully in person between January 24th and 28th for the first time since 2020. The week, long a Greenhills tradition, was forced to take a hybrid approach in 2021; most students watched the Battle of the Bands and Mock Rocks, for instance, over Zoom rather than together in person. But leading up to this year’s Spirit Week, the Student Council, which runs the week, worked overtime to put together an event that could bring the Greenhills community back together and capture the full energy of Spirit Week while also complying with COVID protocols. In other words, this year, Spirit Week was back.
“We had Spirit Week last year, but obviously it was very different,” said Dean of Students Tom Ward. “It’s only one year off, but it felt like a big deal to be back and have something that we’re used to having pre-pandemic.”
Coming after a 2021 Spirit Week that not only couldn’t be held in person, but also limited the events that were possible, this year’s week was a breath of fresh air for students craving a return to the energy and community dynamic of Spirit Weeks past.
“This year, we were able to bring a lot of the fun stuff back,” said Student Council President Ryan Wang. “We actually brought in a bunch of new things also. We experimented with a few things, and they went well.”
The planning for Spirit Week begins months in advance, usually in November, when the Student Council begins drawing up plans and reaching out to stakeholders all over the school. It’s only a week, but it’s a complex organizational undertaking. The council needs to change schedules, find dozens of judges, secure time in the gyms, theater, and other spaces for events, and make sure everyone knows exactly what’s happening. It also has to do the nuts-and-bolts work of building the schedule. While some events stay the same from year to year, Spirit Week is always evolving, with new events being added and the council taking in as much feedback as possible in order to understand what kind of contests the student body is looking for.
The culminating athletic event, for instance, used to be floor hockey. In warmer weather, it’s sometimes been kickball or even quidditch. But this year, the Student Council opted for volleyball, a decision that has been met with widespread positive reception.
“It was a huge hit,” Ward said. “Everyone loved it; it was a great spectator event. I just met with the Student Council today during their review and debrief of the week, and that was the unanimous thing: ‘That worked. We need to bring that back next year.’”
One other highlight came during “walk-offs,” the dance competition at the end of the week, when the faculty interrupted the proceedings with a bombshell: a hybrid in-person and video dance entry, featuring both new and longtime faculty members. Unfortunately, Bruce Zellers couldn’t make it to the filming session.
“That was a lot of fun, and several people were talking about that being one of the highlights of Friday,” Ward said. “There was a lot of excitement on whether or not the faculty would get involved in more things in the future.”
For the seniors, the week represented one last chance to bask in Greenhills spirit, especially after a 2021 week that faced limitations. The seniors are typically Spirit Week’s loudest cheerleaders.
“The seniors are the most vocal supporters of every grade, not just their own,” Ward said. “The seniors are jumping up and down and cheering on ninth graders and tenth graders as much as they are their own grade. I was really proud of the seniors for that this year.”
The seniors, of course, are also the most frequent winners of Spirit Week. Every year, the other grades try to dethrone the senior class — and every year, it seems, they cannot. That’s become a sore point for some people, but of course, everyone will be a senior eventually.
“When I hear those complaints, I think that’s a good thing, because that means people are invested,” Wang said. “People care about the competition. The moment people stop complaining and stop saying anything is when we lose people, and it’s not as fun anymore.”
Every year, the seniors stand against the other three classes. Most years, they win. Of course, that benefits every Greenhills class, because even the freshmen will be seniors one day. Still, though, dethroning the seniors, as difficult as it may be, has become a driving factor that brings the rest of the school together during Spirit Week.
“People like to hate on a common enemy,” Wang said, “and it’s always the seniors.”