The Decline of School Spirit


Elise Morrow and Louisa Roesler, Journalist

School spirit is a very large part of any individual’s high school experience. It not only gets students excited about their school environment but also upholds a sense of community and togetherness within the town. Whether it be attending sporting events, school plays, art shows, or musical performances, the pride it brings to a town is immense. However, do some people feel that participating in or attending school events is actually a threat to their pride? Research from a public school in Florida with grades six through twelve shows that nowadays, children look to be rewarded for their participation in school events, that there should be an incentive. It also shows that students have so much already on their plate; do they even have time to participate in school related activities? Has this always been the case? Is school spirit just something that you imagine blossoming in high school but then get let down after seeing it’s not all that?

To dig a little deeper, we interviewed past and present students of Ipswich High School. We asked what they think about the current level of school spirit and if they think it has declined or not. To start off, we interviewed Gardener O’Flynn. Gardy O’Flynn is the current physical education teacher at Ipswich High School as well as an Ipswich High School alumnus, having graduated from Ipswich High School in 1989. He shared many of his experiences from high school. He stated that the level of school spirit was very high during the years he attended high school.

“It was all about Ipswich. It was all about your town. Everything was centered around the community and how Ipswich was doing. That was the biggest thing. There wasn’t the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union, referring to club sports in general) or the other different teams you could play for. You just did youth sports in Ipswich and then you played for the high school. There were no other teams or leagues out there.” 

Through working as a teacher in the Ipswich High school Gardy has firsthand knowledge regarding the school spirit today. Gardy as well as many others agree that Spirit Week has the most direct impact on school spirit for our school. It is extremely unfortunate that we were unable to have Spirit Week this past fall. However, Gardy shared his and other facilities’ hopes for this coming spring. 

“I like seeing the Spirit of things. That’s why I’ve always pretty much run spirit week and I want to do it this spring for you guys. I’ve already talked to Mr. C, we’ve met about it and we really are going to try to plan on doing it for you guys.” 

This is wonderful news, and will help increase the level of school spirit this year!

Next, we interviewed Kelley Michael. Kelley is our school’s athletic trainer as well as a teacher assistant for many different classes. She graduated from Ipswich High School in 2010. Kelley reflected on the level of school spirit through her high school years, as well as many memories that contributed to i

“The school spirit during my time in HS was on the decline even then. My freshman year, 2006-2007, I would say school spirit was the highest and most contagious. People who weren’t in the athletics community came and supported athletics. It was “cool” to try during spirit week and each team supported each other. However, even during my short 4 years the decline happened, by my senior year it wasn’t like that anymore unfortunately.”

As the athletic trainer, Kelley is at every sports game. She sees the turnout of each game, hears the chants, and experiences the overall mood of the audience. Unfortunately, Kelley shared that it is not always great.

 “I do think it (school spirit) has declined. Students don’t come out to support teams as much. The cheering on the sidelines isn’t always positive and excited. It feels forced. I’m not sure what could have caused it. I don’t want to be that adult that says “technology”, but there is so much access to things these days. When I was in school, the school events were our “entertainment” we didn’t really have anything else going on.”

Students have many more distractions in their daily lives than ever before. This definitely has an effect on the overall attendance of school events. Many students find it more enjoyable to stay home and find entertainment through other things, and do not think to go to a school event.

Griffin Wilson graduated from Ipswich High School in 2016. While attending Ipswich High School Griffin participated in many school sports and clubs. Griffin has a lot of school spirit and is very passionate about Ipswich High School. 

“I would say there was good school spirit when I was at school, but certainly more when I was a freshman than a senior. Supporting each other in sports and other school events just seemed a lot stronger when I was a freshman. I definitely think it has declined. I’m not completely sure why. One example would be basketball games where much of the spirit came from cheers and the student section, but because of increasing rules and restrictions it seemed like students were told to basically be quiet and the spirit really went down.”

A large part of school spirit at sports games is chanting and cheering for your team. Over the past couple years, many rules and restrictions have been put in place that minimize what the fan section can say and do. The rules were much more lenient before which may have played a part in the large levels of school spirit.

Lastly, we interviewed the class of 2021’s President, Bree Ring. She explained her thoughts about the class of 2021’s school spirit. Every fall it is Bree’s responsibility to get volunteers for the many events throughout spirit week. Oftentimes, this is not an easy task, however, it may be getting easier. 

“Over these past few years I have seen classmates become more involved in spirit week, but that is about it. They have seen how fun it is to participate, and they know what to expect. Freshman year spirit week was like pulling teeth to get people to volunteer to participate in the indoor/outdoor events. The school spirit at IHS is not the best, there is room for improvement. Going to football games junior year was something I looked forward to because it was funny to see Ali and Lucas trying to hype up the student section.”

As the president of the senior class Bree Ring organizes many class fundraisers. Last month she helped organize a Drive-In Movie in the student parking lot at the Ipswich High School. This was an excellent way to get people together, while social distancing. Bree shared how the event went. 

“To be completely honest, I believe kids think they are too cool to go to certain events. For example, the movie night. I was hoping almost the whole senior class would be there because we were raising money for them, instead roughly 30%-40% was there. As a class officer it is so upsetting because you put in all this time and effort into something for your class and they don’t show up for you. There are always groups of kids that show up to everything to support their class and they are what keep me going.”

School spirit contributes a lot to everyone’s high school experience. It helps to create a fun and supportive environment for all. Overall, Ipswich High School can have great school spirit, however; oftentimes, there is room for improvement. We all must stay involved and support each other!