Spirit week is only lost if we allow it

With heavier regulations and censorship of the traditional senior video planned for tomorrow morning’s spirit skit, students have expressed their concerns to administration regarding the future of spirit week. Read about how spirit week has changed so far over the years in ‘Changes in spirit.”


Natasha Vyhovsky, Editor-in-Chief

At BVNW, we’ve always prided ourselves on unmatched school spirit. We’ve become known for the energy and seriousness with which we approach spirit weeks – the time spent decorating, the creativity spent choosing outfits and the dedication put into the morning spirit skits.

From my perspective of a student who doesn’t get too into school spirit, I still value the freedom of expression and scope of creativity available to the students during spirit week. I love that so many students feel as passionate about it as they do, and I love watching the excitement students share during a week almost entirely devoted to fun.

And, as a First Amendment advocate, I especially appreciate students’ ability to put together content on their own for the morning spirit skits. The idea of censorship in general usually makes me uncomfortable, because I see it easily turning into a worrisome lack of freedom. In the context of the skits, limits placed on our artistic freedom are frustrating, and I understand how the need for a lot of rules can threaten to take fun out of a tradition. When all we’ve known as BVNW students are spirit weeks that are central to our identity as a school, the idea of too much control regarding any aspect of the week seems suffocating.

So when it appears that a tradition we’ve always known and valued is close to being lost, it’s very hard not to be upset.

I personally think it’s nearly impossible to create something funny, like the spirit skits, without running the risk of offending somebody, somewhere, about something. So I, as well as many other students, worry about where that line is drawn – the line between censoring material to protect students or parents who might be uncomfortable or offended, and still allowing the freedom to be funny. If we are concerned so much with rules trying to ensure appropriateness, what’s left of spirit week, right? And what happens if the idea of keeping skits from being inappropriate becomes overzealous?

Some of us might recall the time BVNW appeared all over the news after a spirit skit featured an insensitive joke targeted toward the Jewish population at a school in our district. We might have also heard about the skit years back that included a reference to a bus and one black student whose peers in the skit with him told him to go to the back of the bus.

There’s an understandable reason our administration needs to have rules – they need to be able to prevent behavior like that. I know it’s sometimes easy to say a decision to call something “inappropriate” and keep it out of the skits is unwarranted if we feel like it doesn’t match the offensiveness of those two past incidents. But I also know the administration’s goal isn’t to keep us from enjoying spirit week.

Let’s try, for a minute, to look at spirit week differently. A heavier regulation on spirit skits and the video is likely to change spirit week as we know it, because many of us regard the week with a high importance placed on the skits. The skits are only one aspect of spirit week, though, and this will not affect our ability to keep the level of spirit and fun we’re known for.

I would also encourage us to look at this as an opportunity for change.

In a few years, students won’t know what skits during our time in school looked like; they won’t be upset that rules have changed the things they could say during skits; maybe the limitations will encourage the class skits to be inclusive of everyone and not run by any one group. I love our skits now – but the idea of opening up the skits actually has the potential to create more opportunities. Instead of one group of boys exhausting their creativity over one week, the creativity could be spread to more people and more groups, and we’d probably run less of a risk of offending people when no one has to grasp for possibly inappropriate humor when creativity runs dry.

Spirit week is fundamentally about bringing the student body together, but our traditional spirit skits have been mostly limited to the same small groups of people year after year doing the same style of skit. We could look at this as spirit weeks are doomed forever, or we could look at this as the opportunity for future classes to make the skits even more about togetherness. We should also recognize that spirit week is not lost because of more rules. It’s natural and right to question where the administration comes from; but at the end of the day, we can’t allow some changes to one aspect of spirit week prevent us from keeping our spirited reputation alive.

Read about how spirit week has changes so far over the years in ‘Changes in spirit.”