This was Spirit Week at the local high school. I had a substitute teaching job on Friday, and I got the full impact up close.
Why this week? Friday night was a football game with a neighboring suburb, their arch rivals. Over the years, this rivalry has evolved into a higher purpose — it includes a contest to see who can raise the most money for charity. Groups of students were going from classroom to classroom, building spirit and soliciting contributions. For $20 a volunteer got hit with a cream pie — a Styrofoam tray filled with whipped cream after donning a trash bag and hair cover for protection. For $30, there was hot pepper eating (which the principal announced was banned shortly thereafter). The day ended with a huge pep rally in the gym.
One of the teachers said he both loved and hated this week. He loved the fun and spirit-building, but hated the disruption. Afterward, it was “time to flip the switch” and get some work done. This was doubly important in this class, because it was band, which always requires a lot of concentration on hand-eye coordination. I spent most of the time in a special-needs classroom. I don’t think any spirit group came in, which was just as well, because these students either wouldn’t have understood or would’ve freaked at the change in routine.
At one time I taught at both schools. About a decade ago, I got caught in Spirit Week big time by teaching at both on consecutive days. That means I got hit up for contributions from each. At the hometown school the second day, I explained it a math lesson. “Yesterday, I gave 50% of my cash to your rival, but today I’m giving 100% to you!” (The actual amount was $1 to each.)
By the way, who won the fundraising contest? This year it was the Ronald McDonald House.