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Why school spirit matters

Submitted by jreid on

This week, the Junior School students and staff enjoyed a Spirit Week. It has been an opportunity for all of us to put our beloved uniforms (and teacher clothing!) to the side while we collectively dress to support either a cause or theme. While a week of dress down days can help to bolster energy, awareness and community spirit, the overarching effects of having opportunities to engage in school spirit have many lasting, positive effects.

School spirit comes in many forms. It can be a school colour, cheer, motto or mascot. Whatever the medium, school spirit demonstrates pride in one’s learning community and enthusiasm for a shared goal or outcome. Not only is engaging in school spirit initiatives fun, evidence shows that participation leads to increased engagement, stronger academic results and better mental health.

We know, as educators and parents, that students are able to engage fully at school when they feel like they belong. Promoting school spirit in thoughtful ways that are inclusive and accessible to all helps to create a culture of teamwork and unity. Relationships between students and faculty are strengthened through a common experience and this, inevitably, contributes to a culture of positivity and inclusivity – one in which engagement is strong and consistent.

Another effect of strong school spirit that may be surprising is the idea that participation can lead to stronger academic results. A survey in the United States which polled students, principals and parents found that students who have a strong sense of school spirit and engage fully in the offerings provided tend to perform better academically. These students, who self-identified as having high levels of school spirit, had higher grades on their report cards and recorded more regular attendance than those who did not participate regularly in spirit events.

Lastly, school spirit has been shown to have a positive impact on a student’s mental health. suggests that students who feel a sense of belonging and connection to their learning community are less likely to experience feelings of depression and loneliness. The idea of helping students see school spirit as being something they can be part of that is bigger than themselves is key to providing a sense of purpose and belonging.

School spirit extends beyond a non-uniform week; it has many benefits that exceed the basic tenet of having fun and participating. Encouraging our students to take part in all the special activities and events can impact their lives in more ways than we know. The key is to ensure the planned activities are as equitable and inclusive as possible. By promoting school spirit in Boulden House through our weekly Wacky Tie Days, our monthly Soxteenth Days, our non-uniform days and the other spirit events that are planned over the year, we are helping to build a stronger, more connected community of learners. So, in the spirit of school cheer, Go Bears Go!