“We looked at attendance and started to recognize that a lot of people were leaving or being dismissed early or not even coming in for the day. We really want this to be a place that’s fun to be at and that the kids see this as an opportunity to get a little bit of change in their schedule and that they’re doing something enjoyable here at school,” said Nicole Casimiro, an adviser of Student Athletic Leadership Team (SALT), discussing this Friday’s spirit day.
This year, the Oyster River High School (ORHS) student senate, SALT, and other ORHS faculty worked together on a committee to help improve pep rally and field day. The committee’s overall goal was to create a fun day that students would want to be involved in at school.
While perfect attendance may not be realistic, Casimiro said, “we recognize that not everyone’s going to buy in, but we can do more to make people buy in. I know not everyone is going to be wicked excited about flag football or really excited about knock out. But, there’s something we can do to make people realize it’s okay to stay here and be with your friends and try to find something for everyone.”
Casimiro said a lot of thought went into the pep rally games and how they can be made more enjoyable for everyone. “We’re trying to get more things, like karaoke and things that aren’t just centered around competition and that can include a lot more people,” she said.
Michael Syzmanski (‘21), ORHS student senate member, explained, “we got rid of some of the not so popular games like the shoe game, Hungry Hungry Hippos, and the scooter race.” Because those events were cut they were able to bring in karaoke, Omnikin Ball, and World Cup soccer for the first time this year.
“The overall mission of the pep rally is to bring the school together and when we were sitting down and planning this year’s pep rally, we didn’t feel like it resembles that that much,” said Szymanski.
Casimiro said that although they made changes, the traditional aspect of the pep rally won’t be lost. “I don’t think we’ll lose the competitiveness, but hopefully we’ll get more people involved and won’t be caring as much about points, but more about participation.”
While discussing the effort to include more people Szymanski said, “another change we made this year was making sure the games are co-ed, that it’s not dominated by one gender.”
Szymanski also explained the new point scale this year, created to encourage more student involvement in dressing up throughout spirit week. “We changed the point scale to make sure everyone’s participating. Before it was one point per person who participated, now it’s 100 points for first place, 75 for second, 50 points for third, and 25 points for last place. The idea is to get more people involved, instead of some people just sitting back.”
Based on feedback from last year’s spirit day, Syzmanski said, “We also changed the lunch from last year because there was some negative feedback and to also speed things up. The student body wasn’t too happy that we didn’t get to complete everything last year, so we changed [lunch] from burgers to pizza this year.”
While the changes to spirit day may not be drastic this year, Syzmanski said, “we talked a lot about big changes, but unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to put that into effect for this year. Hopefully, in the near future we’re going to start planning for next year so we can make some big changes.”
After all the work put into this year’s spirit day, Casimiro said, “I think it will be really enjoyable. So I hope that a lot of students recognize that and feel comfortable voicing opinions, so we can look to shift things in the future.”
Photo by Taylor March