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Nov. 17, 2005

Spiritless students fill Blair

by Jordan Goldstein, Page Editor and Payal Patnaik, Online Editor-in-Chief
It's three days before homecoming at Colonel Zadok Magruder High School. As students turn into the senior hallway, they walk under a giant green dragon, mouth open wide, greeting them to the medieval scene that lies ahead. As they walk down the hall, other students act out medieval scenes, paper m‚che pigs sit in hay, aluminum foil knights guard a working drawbridge and an old wizard stands by his cauldron. All along the walls are intricate paintings of coats of arms and long banquet tables, jailed prisoners and mysterious potions, torches and spell books. About thirty seniors are frantically rushing around, putting the final touches on their homecoming masterpiece. Meanwhile, less than ten miles away, a handful of Blair juniors are putting the final touches on their single pole on Blair Boulevard, decorated with a few posters and flimsy Pacman figures. A few feet down the hall, some seniors are finishing the pole for the freshman class - not enough freshmen volunteered to decorate their own pole.

Such is typical of Blair's school spirit. The ideal high school often evokes thoughts of elaborate homecoming preparations and large crowds at football games - the sort of school that is normally portrayed in the movies. While several MCPS schools such as Magruder seem to fit in this mold, Blair seems to have completely missed it. Dances, other than homecoming and prom, are cancelled because of the lack of student interest. Blair's football stands are sparsely occupied, and forget about having audiences at any other athletic event. In a school with different education programs and varying ethnic groups, the waves of spirit reach only a few while leaving the majority of Blazers out of the loop.

A different kind of homecoming

Unlike Blair, which spends a mere week decorating, Magruder High School spends a month preparing for homecoming. According to Magruder senior Dan Rosenberg, each grade level is assigned a hallway to decorate for the big event. Students begin decorating an entire month before the judging, and as the final three days draw near, Rosenberg says, "everyone just goes crazy with decorating."

Rosenberg transferred to Magruder after finishing his sophomore year at Blair and believes that Blair is significantly less spirited in comparison. "Going from Blair to Magruder - it's like polar opposites," he says. "You've got to see it to believe it."

Blair homecoming is a different affair from most other schools in the county. This year, Blazers were allowed to dress in sneakers at the dance, and many took advantage of this, coming in far more causal wear than one would expect to find. Blair senior Katrina Emery was surprised at her first homecoming at Blair during her freshman year. "I expected for homecoming to be fancier. I was all dressed up, and there were people in jean skirts. I'd rather have it be more fancy."
At Magruder, according to Rosenberg, nearly all the boys wear suits and girls wear brand new dresses.

Magruder isn't the school that's the anomaly, though. In describing the stark contrast between her sister's experience at Wheaton High School ten years before, Emery explains, "In Wheaton they'd give each class a hall to decorate and [students would] completely fill the hall with decorations. And at Blair, they'd probably rip it down. There's just not enough school spirit."

Senior Stephanie Burt agrees with Emery. "Blair's a big school with a lot of people," she says. "We're divided in ethnicity, so we're more divided. That's why it's easier to do class spirit instead of school spirit."

Blasť Blazers

Student participation is one of the biggest indicators of Blair's spirit problem. For example, the SGA, a student-run organization that is in place essentially to voice the student body's views to the administration, has barely enough people to fill all of the elected positions. No one ran for class of 2009's secretary or the class of 2008's vice presidency last year. No one ran for class of 2007's secretary or treasurer positions. Four out of five Senate positions had to be appointed to the class of 2007 and all five positions were appointed for the senior class - only one person between the two classes wanted to run for a position in the Senate. School president Barun Aryal ran unopposed last year, which, in a typical high school, is unheard of. According to SGA Vice President Stephen Demarais, although most presidential and vice presidential elections at Blair have two candidates, in the other races people typically run unopposed - or not at all.

At Magruder, according to Rosenberg, three or four candidates ran for each presidential position this year and at least two candidates vied for each seat. In addition, he says, "People work their butts off to get elected to a position," running elaborate campaigns urging students to vote.

Most Blair students do not participate in the classic high school events - spirit week and football games, as junior Chinchu Harris sees it. "Athletes are really into [being spirited] but other people don't care. They dress up for twin day, PJ day and that kind of stuff, but that's all."

Harris herself has never dressed up for spirit week. "I'm too busy for that," she says, laughing. Harris has only been to one football game, her freshman year homecoming, and has no plans to attend any other events. According to an informal poll of 100 Blair students conducted the week of Nov. 7, 68 percent of Blazers have attended only one football game or less during their time at Blair.

Junior Sandrine Zoko has never been to a football game. "It's not fun for me, I don't see what's fun about it," she says, looking over at her friends. Zoko did participate in spirit week - for Wacky Tacky Day. She and her friends don't go to sporting events, don't dress up for the majority of the spirit days and don't think the situation at Blair is going to change.

Explaining the apathy

Blazers cite several different reasons behind the apathy. Zoko, Harris and Emery agree that Blair has no spirit because the students do not care about the school. Zoko points to Blazer Court, where she eats lunch, and explains, "There's trash everywhere; nobody cares [about Blair]."

Emery also feels that the size of Blair, about 3200 students, hurts school spirit. According to her, there are "too many people to get together to actually do class spirit." Sophomore Eve Kenney agrees, explaining that "not everyone knows everyone else; we're not tight."

Whatever the reasons, it's clear that Blair is severely lacking in school spirit. Between the lifeless homecoming decorations, abandonment of football games, empty SGA and nonadherence to Spirit Week, the most outstanding aspect of Blazer spirit is the utter lack of it.



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  • sad blaze :( on November 17, 2005 at 7:28 PM
    this is very well written, and unfortunately very true. Everyone should take a look at the old homecoming photos from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Blair USED to have spirit!
  • ! on November 17, 2005 at 7:42 PM
    WOW!!!!!!!!!!
  • corrections on November 17, 2005 at 8:34 PM
    "Its three days before homecoming at Colonel Zadok Magruder High School."

    it should be "it's" or "it is."

    but i love you all, regardless
  • blazer on November 17, 2005 at 9:15 PM
    stop hatin on blair. maybe if we advertised spirit week more, we would have gotten more participation. and maybe if the sga offered the "decorating of the halls," students would be interested in doing it. but the fact is, with a school of over 3200, its hard for students to be aware of every event because there are many who: one, dont care about school, and two, are completely clueless of everything. and another thing, who cares about magruder? all schools do things differently. they probably have less then half of the student body we do, so it would be a completely different atmosphere.
    youve probably lessened the school spirit by writing this article. but other then that, its very well written.
  • school pride on November 17, 2005 at 9:44 PM
    i care about blair! yeah we're different from other schools but maybe that is what makes us so cool
  • Eye opener on November 17, 2005 at 10:56 PM
    To "blazer":
    Bringing a problem to attention rarely aggrivates the situation itself. I suggest you take into consideration the fact that many blazers are not even aware that other schools, like magruder, work so hard for their homecomings and such. This article is a wake up call, not a bash.

    Way to go, payal =>)
  • . on November 17, 2005 at 11:05 PM
    maybe if the spirit themed days weren't the same every year, blazers might be more spirited!
    try some new exciting themes for spirit week and see what happens!
  • Ha on November 18, 2005 at 11:08 AM
    Hey, I didn't wear crazy clothes, dumb hats, and drafty pajamas for four years just to hear that Blair isn't spirited. This is depressing. Thanks for making us spirited people feel worthless.
  • to blazer on November 18, 2005 at 10:58 PM
    What you're saying is just emphasizing the point. There are info-flow announcements, posters in the hallways, and announcements on sco advertising everything you could ever want to know about Blair. The problem is the students don't care. If people wanted to help and participate, they will see the announcements and participate, instead of brush it off...which is what happens to the vast majority of blazers. It's not communication, it's the fact that no one feels connected to Blair, which is a huge problem.
  • Anonymous on November 19, 2005 at 12:50 PM
    What is school spirit? Why is it important? How is dressing up in pajamas school spirit? I didn't know I could decorate the hallway if I wanted, "to blazer", this was not advertised ANYWHERE. But what's so good about being proud of a school? I'm here to get an education. I go to football games because I know a few people on the team and enjoy watching football. But you really can't blame kids who don't like football for not going to football games. And how is kids not dressing up for homecoming lack of school spirit?

    and one more thing.

    "a student-run organization that is in place essentially to voice the student body's views to the administration" - article

    This is NOT a student-run organization because Gainous has power to veto ANYTHING they do. I've never been asked for my views from the SGA or even given the opportunity to talk to any of my SGA "representatives". The SGA is simply a popularity contest so the people can put it on their college applications. They have no power and don't give anyone the opportunity to talk to them. On top of that I am perfectally capable of talking to the administration myself. OK that's all for now.
  • +07+ on November 19, 2005 at 2:55 PM
    Some key problems are:

    1.EVERYONE IS NOT INFORMED ENOUGH. There is not enough effort from the staff and administration for spirit week. Im a junior and I would have loved to decorate for 07, but on info flo, they only advertised for 08, 09, and 06 and i didnt know where to go.I thought it was a mistake, so I watched all week, but still no 07 info. i asked some teachers and they didnt even know. and as for the t-shirt that we dont even have, they only gave us 1 week to design it!07 doesnt even have a class sponsor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Also, the SGA should make an effort to inform students about what positions are open, and what they actually do (what the heck does the secretary do?), and if they really cared, they would have held a re-election if no one ran (im sure SOMEONE would have ran).

    2. GANIOUS ALWAYS CANCELS EVERYTHING AND HE PUNISHES THE WHOLE SCHOOL FOR THINGS THEY DIDNT EVEN DO (cancelled dance teams and clubs performing at pep rallies, cancelled the pep rally last year with WPGC- everyone was actually excited about getting a chance to be heard on the radio, but Ganious cancelled it because of a fight. He punishes the whole school for the actions of a few. He says that its our peers fault. How can we control them??? He punishes 2,500 people for the way that a couple dozen people behave?

    3.BLAIR IS SO UNORGANIZED!!Homecoming is supposed to be special, but those in charge dont show they really care. A lot of people have never gotten to vote for HC court, and i only got to vote my freshman year. How hard is it to get ballots out???And things always just happen to get cancelled because of "sceduling problems" (like SANKOFA, which lots of people enjoy).

    4. THINGS USED TO BE BETTER.when i was a freshman, the mascot danced and did flips and got everyone to laugh and have fun, now it does nothing but walk around a wave like its ronald mcdonald or something! we had a clubs pep rally, but not one last year, they used to play MUSIC AT LUNCH, which was cool, and we had soda and good stuff at the school store and in vinding machines, ans we had pizza and hamburgers and hot dogs and chicken patties in the alacart line (that makes a big difference to some people!

    Bottom line, we need more fun stuff and to be informed. they want to blame us for not participating for stuff when some people dont even here about or here about it like a day before it happens. we need to
    1.let classes vote on their t-shirts
    2.let students vote for spirit days
    3.play music at lunch again
    4.have hallways to decorate for HC & spirit week
    5.have campaign assemblies like we used to for people running for SGA
    6.let people advertise for SGA and HC court! they dont even allow people to put up posters!


  • Wishing for SPIRIT on November 19, 2005 at 5:10 PM
    I really wish Blair had more spirit =(
    When I was a freshman, I dreamed of going to a homecoming parade, or helping to decorate the halls and wishing my class would win
    Instead of spirit, we have cancelled pep rallies and games
  • unspirited on November 19, 2005 at 9:02 PM
    At a lot of high schools, the layout is more friendly to "class halls." At Blair, there are too many short hallways (and one very long one). Also, who cares? I go to school to LEARN, so I can make money in the real world!
  • sprit on November 20, 2005 at 12:30 AM
    So, Blair needs spirit. Frankly, I used to be like, BLAIR SUCKS, and i had no spirit at all. but now that I'm more involved and I see my friends so into the stuff at their schools, I really wish our school was like that too.
    How about instead of everyone just SAYING that Blair has no spirit, how about the people who WANT a difference actually do something?
  • Eric Hysen (View Email) on November 20, 2005 at 12:37 PM
    Re: What is school spirit?

    The SGA is more than happy to hear student feedback if you come talk to us, and we love for new people to get involved. We have a Secretary of Student Advocacy for the sole purpose of polling students and determining what's important to them.

    Just two days ago we had dozens of students come to the SGA Office and ask for us to take action on the administration not allowing football to be played at lunch. Next week, we'll be talking extensively with the administration to resolve this and let Blazers play again.

    So come down to Room 161 and tell us what's important to you. Blair has over 3000 students, and the 60 or so people in the SGA can't possibly talk to everyone. Don't just sit there and criticize us through anonymous comments; work with us and get your voice heard.

    Eric Hysen
    SGA Chief of Staff
  • Louis Wasserman (View Email) on November 20, 2005 at 12:47 PM
    WHO NEEDS SCHOOL SPIRIT?!?!?!?!!?!!!

    What's so great about it?
    I can never understand you people...
  • 05 on November 21, 2005 at 8:09 PM
    blair's students lack spirit simply because administration doesn't create an the right environment. By cancelling pep rallies, powderpuff games, as well as establishing ridiculous new rules every year (kids aren't allowed to go to get passes to the bathroom?!!), students don't really have anything to get hyped up about.

    The example must be set by the entire school.
  • Jay Asbell on November 22, 2005 at 4:12 PM
    I have to agree with 05, administration killed school spirit. They eliminated class colors day, the most popular spirt day of the week, cancled pep rallies because of the actions of a handfull of students, and are generally much more oppressive then they need to be.
  • 05er on November 23, 2005 at 9:58 PM
    my freshman yr was sooooo NICE but then again that's what everyone says becuase eveything goes down hill from there...get used to it BLAIR JUST SUCKS!!
  • Blazer on November 27, 2005 at 10:28 AM
    It's not the students don't have spirit, it's that everything is being cancelled! Dances and pep rallies are always being cancelled, so why would students get excited about something that will probably be cancelled anyway? You want people to participate in spirit week, try offering prizes to the most spirited students or get some new spirit ideas (pajama day is worn out) or even just showing how decked out some students are (not everyone looks at SCO).You want people to decorate the halls, give them more time and space and notice or better themes for the dances. You want people to go to dances and pep rallies, actually have more than one a year. You want more people to be in SGA, show that students can actually change the school. You want students to have more spirit, don't have the only spirit stuff at the beginning of the year. You want students to attend Blair games, advertise other teams that actually win a lot of games! (Like girlsí volleyball) You want students to participate in anything, make it more convenient for US. A lot of students donít have time or energy to come back to school after hours.

    And find other ways besides Info Flow (which many students don't pay attention to) and a few posters around the main hall to inform students of what is going on. SGA members, get out and go talk to some students! If you ask students if they know the name of their class president, the majority of them will say no. If I didn't personally know my class president, I wouldn't have any idea who he is either.

    Itís true that Blazers don't have a lot of spirit. But in order to change that, the administration and SGA need to step up and do something rather than give us pitying looks.
  • random on November 28, 2005 at 7:33 PM
    I am a freshman, and if I was notified about volenteer oppritunities such as to decorate the '09 pole I would've grasped the oppritunity.
  • 04 alum on December 2, 2005 at 1:57 PM
    Blair students never had sprit. da best years to be at blair was between 2000-2002. after dat administration just made every thing worse. when i was a freshmen and sophomore at blair it was fun...but junior and senior year just sucked.
  • 08 on January 21, 2006 at 12:47 PM
    yeah, I have to say Magruder owns you guys. My brother goes there, and I go to a bunch of football games there, and I go to hall night and help out with all of that. they also have a battle of the classes, where ten people from each year compete in a bunch of random fun events. they get a huge turnout for that. their bleachers for football games, which are easily double the size of Blair's, are usually 80 to 100 percent full. They have more fans at away basketball games than Blair gets for home games. plus there's really good turnout for soccer and volleyball games (varisty and jv).
    Don't complain that Magruder is a much smaller school. They have the second largest student body in the county (behind us). Our halls are too short? No, they aren't. The halls they use for hall night are about as long as Blair's 50's or 30's hallways.
    What about float? Students spend from the beginning of school until homecoming weekend building a themed float on a truck trailer. During homecoming weekend, all of the floats are transported from whichever house it was built at to in front of the school. Then, a group of students perform choreographed routines on the float for half an hour while judges evaluate everything. Anywhere from 20 to 50 kids show up at every float meeting (there are quite a lot of them) and they make totally amazing floats.

    What do we do at Blair? half-fill our bleachers at homecoming football games? the only reason it seems anyone besides the seniors (maybe them, too) bought a class t-shirt was because of the pep rally. That's the most school spirit we ever get. A few short minutes of screaming "08" one day a year.

    So yeah, we suck at school spirit, really badly. So, dear administration, try to fix things. Otherwise I will continue to pay Magruder to watch their sports teams, instead of coming to watch my own school compete.
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