The Pride Problem

26 Feb

For Julie Dolezilek, sophomore journalism major, school spirit is a personal issue. As an exuberant blonde cheerleader, Dolezilek sees spirit – or lackthereof – every week at athletic events.

“I’m a cheerleader, and you’d think I’d see a lot more spirit. But actually, being on the squad has pointed out our lack of spirit at Park. Sometimes we’ll be cheering, and the people in the stands aren’t really into it. They don’t cheer with us, they just look at us,” says Dolezilek.

That’s part of the reason Dolezilek joined Student Senate this year, where she now heads the Student Life committee. Since the committee directly affects the student body, she feels that she has the most impact on the Park community. As part of her mission to improve the school, her committee has put together the School Spirit Forum on Friday, February 26 at 2 p.m. in the McCoy Meeting House. The forum will feature several panelists as well as an open discussion format.

“An informed student body is better off. If they know about a problem, it’s more likely to change. With this forum, we’re trying to give the students ideas and spark questions,” says Joshua Evans, sophomore psychology major and student senator. “Get them to ask, What am I doing to be proud of my school? What am I doing to make my school a place to be proud of?”

The student life committee hopes that students will bring ideas for how to improve spirit at Park to improve event attendance, local economy, and general excitement. Dolezilek emphasizes that the senators aim to represent the student population, and the forum is one avenue students can take to make their voices heard.

“I came here from a small high school that had a lot of pride. People stood through whole games and we had to fight to get a cheer in edgewise! Coming here, it’s bizarre how different it is,” says Dolezilek.

“A decade ago, Park had school pride. There’s a picture in Thompson of students painted with the letters to spell PARK PIRATES. Now it can be hard to find enough students in the stands to spell PARK. Somewhere between then and now, we lost something that we never found again. But it could change,” says Evans. “It’ll take work from all of us. But so many people say ‘no one goes to events, why should I go’ – what if all of those people actually went?”

Dolezilek emphasizes that spirit – or lack of spirit – surrounding athletics is just one of the more visible symptoms. However, she believes that the community in general lacks pride for Park and for the things that happen here.

“When people think of spirit, they tend to think of athletics – but spirit affects school in general. Everyone has a reason to be here. It might be a really great scholarship or an opportunity in athletics, or our really small class sizes,” says Dolezilek. “People get hung up on negative things, like the Copley stairs being closed or the parking being tough right now. Instead, they should remember all the great things about our school and why they love being here!”

Both Evans and Dolezilek believe that school spirit is improving this year, and will continue to improve.

“Men’s basketball has been really helped with spirit this year. They’re a really phenomenal team. Hopefully this momentum will carry on and students will support our teams even if we have a bad year,” says Dolezilek.

“I was awestruck – literally breathless – at the turnout to the white-out game. There was cheering and chanting and whooping! Everyone was standing. Everything that represents school pride was there. I felt like I was at a different school,” says Evans.

The tentative agenda for the forum includes topics such as building a pirate ship, as discussed on Facebook earlier this academic year, as well as ideas for improving attendance at various events. Suggestions for improving attendance include creating banners, more giveaways at games, and more benefit games.

Published 26 February 2010 in The Stylus Newspaper.

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