You always hear that the demise of the public high school is eminent. The funding for programs is almost nil and music, art, and theater classes are fighting for their own survival. Even class events are being canceled do to the lack of interest on the part of the students. So, how do we get back that spirit of camaraderie that use to exist when we were in school?
I know it’s there somewhere. All you have to do is walk on a college campus to see that every other student is wearing the school or fraternity logos. Go to a college football or basketball game, its there, too. Finally, I found out what it takes to get the spirit back into the American public school…and it’s competition.
Last year, we had scheduled a high school winter dance. Ten years ago that dance pulled in 300-400 students and thousands of dollars. Five years ago we scheduled it and the student council could not even sell enough tickets to pay for the DJ. The school lost a thousand dollars. Last year it was tried again and this time stucco announced that if they did not sell 100 tickets by a certain date, it would be canceled again. They sold 55 tickets.
Last week our high school varsity football team made it to the regional finals. Kids that do not even know the rules of football showed up at the Friday night game. There were so many people there that it was standing room only. Competition.
This week a local television station sponsored a contest to choose the best high school fans in the area. You had to vote online for your school. Again, kids were logging in and voting over and over again day and night to win the competition. Last night on the evening news it was announced that our school won. Tomorrow there will be a pep assembly and the TV station will be at the football game on Friday.
Every year the French, German, and Spanish classes compete in an international Olympics. Kids are dressed in team colors and the attendance is high.
Every year the Honors English classes compete with the Honors social studies classes in a one day kick ball game. Everyone shows up for this.
Teachers make class work into competition by making up Jeopardy and other games using questions and answers to their tests. Kids love it and will fight to answer first if they know that they are known as the class winner or if extra credit is one of the perks.
So, gone are the days of dances and social events at school. Kids say they have better things to do than come to school on a Friday or Saturday night. Students will come in masses as long as there will be a winner and a loser. That’s what it takes… good ol’ competition.