Blazers fall far behind in typical high school activities
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 mâche 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."
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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