The Roaring Times

The Student Newspaper of John H. Pitman High School.

The Roaring Times

The Roaring Times

What Happened to The Spirit?

What Happened to The Spirit?

The lack of school spirit has been nothing but a speculation since the beginning of the school year. However, with recent games and events, further clarification and confirmation have come to light. Evidently, Pitman is lacking in the department of spirit. Throughout this article, Pitman students will be interviewed about their opinions and experiences when it comes to school spirit, so stay tuned! 

Ever since the 2023-2024 school year began, both the students and faculty here at Pitman have noticed a drastic decline in school spirit. And it has come to a point where it can no longer be ignored. Students that have attended games this year have reported a lack of students in the Pit Crew compared to last year. And because of the small size of the Pit Crew, the spirit is bound to be lacking as well. With fewer students, needless to say, any kinds of cheer and chants are scarce. 

Here is a Pitman junior that has been attending all the games this year. Although she wished to stay anonymous, here is her opinion on the lack of school spirit: “I think that school spirit is lacking. I think that the Spirit Leaders are a little bit unmotivated. Personally, I wanted to be one but the seniors didn’t let me because I am a junior. At the Barbie game, the spirit leaders were just standing there and I don’t blame them because they probably didn’t want to be there but they had to because no one else wanted to. I think that there is a lack of passion from spirit leaders. I think they are doing well with their circumstances, especially in the last two years.” 

She added, “I don’t want to blame ASB students, I think they are doing well. I think that students that are not in ASB are quick to attack ASB students and ASB teachers for the lack of student spirit because they don’t understand that it is difficult and it is not easy what ASB does. I am in ASB this year and we talk about how to get people to get into it and we talk about the rallies and have discussions on how to make it better because we can always do better.”

She continued, “I do agree with the fact that students might just not want to go; maybe they see it as “social suicide” and I think that’s a common thought especially for underclassmen. When I was a freshman, I didn’t want to go either. But I think that if we make more Tiktoks and do things like ‘Fan of the Game’ or ‘Loudest Cheer’ it might help with more show-ups. Not simple posts or videos, but engaging and fun marketing.“

For further insight, I requested an interview with Tanya White, a teacher in Pitman. She not only accepted my request, but she took the liberty to invite two other teachers to the interview! So here is a conversation between Jennifer Oleson, White and Jaime Suarez, all teachers on campus with her opinion on the school spirit. Olesen started with, “I think my sophomore class has a lot of spirit. They are strong leaders and they push out spirit. When I went to the volleyball games, I saw a lot of sophomores and they are a very strong class.” White chimed in, “I think juniors are getting there too. I think there are a lot of juniors that are spirited too. Football games had good spirit, but I think what happened with volleyball is that sometimes there were two games a week and with school and work and Waterpolo games so there was some conflict with games.”

Olesen continued, “I will speak as a parent; Kaiya is in ASB, drama and golf. As a parent, I am watching her be loaded with all of these things. She still goes to volleyball games because she is part of taking the pictures. It is exhausting.” 

Suarez added, “For the most part, I think there is a pretty good amount of participation because some kids don’t want to be part of anything and that is understandable.”

Along with White, I interviewed Katie Jeans, ASB advisor, and asked her about this topic and whether this is a concern for ASB in general and why she thinks we, as the student body, are lacking in spirit. Here’s her response: “I do not think we are lacking in school spirit, but school involvement at some events. I think that after the pandemic things are finally starting to feel “normal” again. The upper classes that we currently have are an unfortunate product of missing out on the full high school experience and so they did not get to see the classes before them that modeled what to do at rallies and games because we did not get to have them in full force. We are essentially starting over again.”

When asked what ASB is doing to get more participation, Jeans said, “Our football Pit Crews this year were fun! This year our volleyball Pit Crews were pretty sparse. We tried themed nights and advertising on social media, we have tried Battle of the Clubs and Battle of the Classes to try and have a friendly competition to get more students to go. The ASB students have been making TikToks, videos, reels and posters around campus.”

Furthermore, I told her about claims made by students about dress up days being repeated and boring and the themes for the games not being the most interesting either. Conversely, I asked her if the ASB/Green Team is taking those into consideration when deciding dress up days and themes and to that, she answered, “I have not heard these claims, our team has worked really hard since last summer (we met A BUNCH) to come up with fun and interactive themes and Dress-up Days. We have put out surveys to the students of PHS to get their input, but if you are not giving us ideas then you can’t really complain if you are not part of the process.”

She added, “I don’t think that our campus realizes how much work these students put into the events that are planned and they definitely do not get enough credit, instead of focusing on the negative, it would be nice if they could hear more of the positives.  People are Events Coordinators for a living, these are high school kids planning major events that take a lot of time. I am constantly amazed at the creativity the ASB team has for being so young! They are working 24/7 (this is not an exaggeration) to make PHS fun!”

When asked about better dress up days in the future, Jeans said, “I would need to know what ‘better’ means? Better than what? Our school is really fortunate that we have so many opportunities for students. We actually hear from high schools all over California and even out of state that they wish that their schools did as much as we do.  Our admin team is so great about helping us to provide experiences and opportunities for our students.”

Along with those interviews, I interviewed a junior, Brooke Estolas, and asked her why she thinks students might not be going to our games? She said, “I think that people just don’t care. Maybe the games just aren’t fun or the teams aren’t good…But the main thing, I think, is that students just don’t care enough to go to these games.” 

On another note, it has come to light that several cheerleaders have quit the team this year. To understand whether this was related to school spirit, I interviewed a couple cheerleaders and asked their opinion. The two students wanted to stay anonymous..

Student 1: “I think the overall reason a bunch of girls are quitting cheer is because of how we were treated [our first couple of years in Cheer]. We don’t feel valued on the team and most girls don’t want to wait for the [upper] level where we’re actually treated like human beings. I also think that because we don’t have as much love for cheer as when we first started out, it’s harder for us to bring that school spirit during the rallies and other school events.”

Student 2: “Cheer girls are quitting because of the lack of maturity amongst [some of the cheer] coaches, they over do every little situation and cause so much excess stress. Cheer is supposed to be a fun activity to get involved within PHS and make new friends through the sport, but instead the coaches make us dread going to sixth period athletics. [Some of the coaches] make rude comments to their cheerleaders. For example calling them hurtful names, making disrespectful comments under their breath, and calling them out for unnecessary things. Multiple girls quit after being called ‘stupid’ and having nicknames which pointed out insecurities, which they then laughed about after seeing our reactions.”

Student 2 continued, “[Some coaches] have obvious favorites which they put front and center for every single routine, not to mention most of the time they have their own individual section where all attention is pointing towards them and the rest of the girls sit or squat. Those favoritism acts make the rest of the girls feel like their hard work is being ignored and neglected, especially when their favorite has a lack of loyalty to the team and school.”

It doesn’t sound like the cheer girls quitting has anything to do with school spirit, but the fact that some cheerleaders lack in school spirit when performing could be contagious, seeing as they are a big part of school spirit. However, the way some of the coaches are allegedly behaving is absolutely unacceptable. Not to stretch things out of proportion, but faculty members need to be careful about the kind of vibes and aura they give off. When it comes to school, faculty members are the people students should look up to and ask for help. But if they are the ones doing the damage to kids, it would naturally cause there to be a divide. 

For those teachers unaware, just because you haven’t heard students’ opinion on topics and their claims, it does not mean they are non-existent. Maybe some teachers need to stop using their status in schools to get away with ignorance and learn how to adapt to their students’ needs and focus on the vibes they give to their students. 

At the end of the day, Pitman has been seriously lacking in spirit, or so claim all students interviewed on the subject. While there are speculations as to why that is, nothing is completely confirmed. Sometime ago, the English 10 teachers even offered extra credit to those who attend a volleyball game hosted by Pitman, yet almost no one went despite the fact that it was a home game. While this was a smart attempt at getting students to join the Pit Crew, it wasn’t the success it should’ve been. So the question remains: Why are students not attending games? 

The concept of extra credit also goes back to the October Con that was hosted by JSA (Junior States of America), which is a club on campus, a while back. History students were offered extra credit to attend the debate-con, and as someone who was present there, I can vouch for the fact that many students had shown up. This can only mean one thing: Students DO want extra credit, they’re just not willing to go to games. Maybe it has to do with the amount of games per week. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that students have to pay to enter games. Or the fact that the payments are sometimes online. But, maybe, like Estolas said, student’s are just not interested.