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The Perennial

The Perennial

“Let’s Go, Pinewood:” Restoring School Spirit

Sam Jezak
Students cheer at a green and gold assembly

   “LET’S GO PINEWOOD, LET’S GO” is the chant the Panther Pit yells at every home game. The cheering, stomping and yelling echoes throughout the gym. Every pair of eyes looks from the scoreboard, which shows Pinewood down by two points, to the ball, which only has five seconds to get in the hoop. Time slows down, and every heartbeat in the crowd aligns. A shot is up, and no one takes a breath. Swish and the crowd goes wild. Students, siblings, faculty and parents all swarm the gym chanting once more. But this time it goes, “I BELIEVE THAT WE JUST WON, I BELIEVE THAT WE JUST WON.”

   Pinewood’s basketball games were always something I looked forward to, even as a little kindergarten Panther. I loved immersing myself in an environment that was so uplifting and full of so much joy. I longed for the day I could be a high schooler and lead the crowd in chants. I longed to be a part of such a spirited community. Unfortunately, COVID-19 hit during my sixth grade year, and I was deprived of almost two years of cheering in the famous Panther Pit. 

   During the end of eighth grade, students’ health safety was restored, but spirit continued to stay low. As a student council member, I tried everything I could to get my grade to dress up for spirit days and participate in spirit assemblies. It may have been the biggest game of the year, but the Panther Pit still had empty patches with little cheering. The spirit continued to stay fairly low into my freshman year. Lip sync meetings, which were supposed to bring us together, tore us apart as we yelled at each other in chaos. Student council’s efforts seemed futile.

   Director of Student Life Kyle Riches agrees that COVID-19 had a rough impact on school spirit, but he is determined to fix that.

   “It all goes back to what I experienced here at Pinewood as a student,” Riches said, “It had such a huge impact on my life, and that’s all I can hope for any student that sets foot at Upper Campus. I want everyone to feel the same sense of pride and school spirit that I felt and will do whatever I can to try to make that [possible].”

   The persistent efforts of student council, ASB and Riches gradually brought forth spirit from the student body. Today, I feel like I am a part of the community my kindergarten self had always dreamed of. I am now in the Panther Pit, cheering at the top of my lungs. I am now going all-out on spirit days. My classmates who were lukewarm to the student council a year ago are now volunteering to participate in spirit assemblies. Those who ran away from lip sync meetings are now dressing head to toe in green and gold. Students who would usually sit quietly in the stands are now leading the chants. 

   Spirit is finally restored. I can look at younger students from Lower or Middle Campus and know with confidence that they’ll love coming to Upper Campus to cheer in the Panther Pit, go all out on dress-up days, be a part of the lip sync and just get to experience Upper Campus life to its fullest.

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