New year and new principal escalate spirit


Danielle Menkart

The student section was packed with students from all grades at the Sept. 21 football game against Whitman HS. Students donned Hawaiian attire to partake in the themed game.

By Julia Lescht and Jenna Greenzaid, Online Editor-in-Chief, Editor-in-Chief

CHS students start each school year with the same jokes about their usual lack of school spirit. This year, however, the change in school spirit is no joke.

Since the beginning of her term, Principal Brandice Heckert has made it a point to foster a welcoming, spirited and enthusiastic atmosphere. Her efforts thus far have caused CHS to undergo what appears to be a total spirit makeover—no longer do we have consistently empty stands, a lack of pride in the blue and green or an apathetic student body.

“I love Principal Heckert’s efforts so far,” SGA president and senior Justin Jin said. “Not only is she reinforcing the school’s identity physically, but she is also cultivating a sense of community by making sure our voices are heard and taken into consideration.”

CHS students have been exhibiting unprecedented levels of school spirit this year, with the most prominent example being the 632 students filling the student section of the football stadium during varsity football’s rivalry showdown against Whitman. One incentive for students to attend the game was a promise made by the varsity football captains, including senior and quarterback Michael Janis, who vowed to get mohawks if at least 600 students showed up to the game.

“After talking with the athletic director and raising the number from 500 students to 600, I was pretty confident that 600 students would not show up,” Janis said. “Big props to the students for pulling that off.”

A large crowd of students went to the gym during lunch Sept. 26 to watch the football captains get their haircuts. For those who could not attend, it was easy to access videos of the event on the SGA’s new Instagram account.

“Social media has played a significant role in increasing school spirit,” Jin said. “People have underestimated the power of social media for the past few years. Although it has some downsides, when it comes to getting information out to the student body, it gets the job done efficiently and effectively, especially for our generation.”

There are endless clubs, activities and sports that make up the community of CHS, but for those not part of activities, finding a sense of school spirit and belonging can be a challenge.

“School spirit is important because it creates a sense of belonging at Churchill,” Jin said. “When spirit is shown throughout the student body, the students become a part of something. The key thing for us is to create a school identity for the students to be proud of. Although our spirit is not at its maximum potential, we are working to improve it. So far, there has been improvement.”

CHS has developed a reputation in the past for having significantly less school spirit compared to other schools in the county. With a football team record of 5-1, there appears to be a positive correlation between touchdowns and attendance.

“In the past, games and spirit days were lame because people were afraid to support their school by wearing certain things or coming out to support during games,” senior Bobby Foose said. “This year has had a great start because people are realizing that if everyone has spirit, then games are more fun. It’s exciting to lead cheers in the stands, especially when everyone participates.”

This new energy coincides with a new set of challenges. These include the manner in which students choose to express support for CHS. There have already been instances of misunderstanding, misinterpretation, bad sportsmanship and unintentional negativity among students.

“We’re always there to build up who we are and not break down anybody else,” Heckert said. “When you’re focused more on [the other team] and not on us, I would say that is where the line is drawn.”

This goes in terms of how students display their school spirit. When students put all their energy toward criticizing the opposing team, they can lose sight of positively uplifting their own team.

So far, school spirit appears to be on a promising upswing that will not fall soon.

“The one and only goal I have is to revive Churchill’s spirit in both students and teachers,” Jin said. “Hopefully, I can bring it up to the point where it will last for a very long time.”