What is it? Where do you buy it? How much do you need? Who is responsible for it? Several weeks ago I was part of a re-opening ceremony for a former school that I had taught at in the 90’s. That once old, archaic building had been transformed into an architectural state of the art learning environment. As I watched special guests, children and their families and community members arrive you could hear the oohs and ahs as they entered and saw the amazing interior of the school. If you have ever bought a new home, a new car or anything new, you know the excitement that comes with it.
This is where my post shifts gears. It was not the shiny new building. It was not the posh interior that I was in. It was not the formality of the ceremony, nor the speeches, nor the prestigious opening ceremony that had impacted me. What struck me that night was the immediate feeling I had as I entered the building of being a ‘Wildcat’. It had been almost two decades since I was a part of that staff and community. Yet, that feeling of belonging, that feeling of loving to be there and that feeling of comraderie immediately overcame me. Of course the culminating event that cemented that feeling was when a friend and former colleague lead the entire crowd in the long-standing Wildcat cheer. The building erupted into an atmosphere that resembled a pro sporting event.
When I went home that night still on an emotional high I sat and pondered why I had not had that feeling in such a long time. What was it? What caused it to resurface? I have been in many school settings over my career and not every place created that kind of feeling. According to Wikipedia, school spirit is defined as the emotional support for one’s educational institution. There is no curriculum to create it. There is no instruction booklet on how to teach it. There is only the passion and commitment that the teachers bring to their classroom and school.