There’s a new spirit to this year’s remote Spirit Week

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Spirit Week is an annual event at Townsend Harris High School during the fall and spring season and has been a long kept tradition. This fall, Spirit Week was virtual to accommodate the majority of students learning remotely. Because of this, this year’s Spirit Week was able to span seven days, allowing for the addition of two extra themes. The themes for this year were: Pajama Day, THHS Pride Day, Culture Day, Self Care Day, Throwback Thursday, Movie Night, and Halloween, consecutively. 

 In years past, class senators organized the themes of the week by presenting a list of possible options to their history classes to vote on. This year, however, the Student Union created a Google Form asking the student body’s opinion on their preferred themes for each day of Spirit Week. “Some of the options were past favorites: THHS Pride Day and Culture Day, while others were introduced this year, such as Throwback Thursday and Breast Cancer Awareness Day,” said SU President Sharon Li. Like last year’s spring Spirit Week, this year’s fall Spirit Week was celebrated through social media due to the pandemic. Sharon said, “We wanted to emulate that experience virtually by posting the submissions on our Instagram story. That way, students would be able to see how their peers participated in Spirit Week and hopefully gain a sense of camaraderie despite learning remotely.”

With students not being able to physically participate in this year’s Spirit Week, the SU faced some challenges while planning this event. Senior BSAC Rachel Lin stated that “thinking creatively about how we could still show school spirit even though we are remote was most difficult.” The big twist in the final decision of Spirit Week was for students to tag the SU Instagram on their stories to display their excitement for Spirit Week 2020. Another issue presented was the clash with remote learning. Sophomore Sean Zhou said,  “The only thing that I didn’t think was well planned was Self-Care Day because I couldn’t relax at all with all the work I have due.” English teacher Kevin McDonaugh said, “It was easy to let this slip, as there are so many stressors we have to be aware of and plan for on a day to day basis; each day presents a new challenge. However, I really appreciate the school keeping the tradition alive; it’s important to preserve these things while adapting them to these challenging circumstances.”  

Nonetheless, students were fairly understanding of the difficulties faced and responded rather positively to how the Spirit Week turned out. Senior Vivian Chen said, “I like that [the SU] acknowledged everyone’s contributions and posts to make students feel more active in the school community.” 

“You get to learn more about the staff and your classmates regarding their culture, interests, etc. Even though it’s not like normal Spirit Weeks, it was still fun,” junior Marykate Wee added. Sophomore Sophia Sookram continued, “I was pleasantly surprised by the school’s effort in keeping this tradition going.”

Throughout the week, students and teachers alike expressed their sentiment to the tradition. Mr. McDonaugh said, “This year I was looking forward to throwback Thursday– it’s always one of my favorite days.” Sophia added,  “My favorite part of Spirit Week was movie night. It’s hard to find time for yourself while doing remote learning, but movie night was a nice reminder to take some time for yourself and do something that you enjoy.” 

For future Spirit Weeks, senior Amar Maksumić suggested, “We can have a Zoom call after school each day to flex our spirit. I feel like that would allow for us to live in the Spirit Week vibe a little bit more.” 

Freshman Nikita Litescu, who experienced Spirit Week for the first time this year, expressed that she did not feel connected to the school community and recommended “activities and events in class, so people can at least interact with each other a bit more.” 

Nevertheless, students and teachers still believed that Spirit Week is an essential part of the school traditions as it brings the THHS community together. “We still want to come together as a whole and show our school spirit and pride,” Sharon said. 

Coordinator of Student Activities Sarah Loew remarked, “I think Spirit Week encourages the community to express their creativity and get out of their comfort zone. It’s a great way to make memories and cope with some of the stress of college applications.”