Genaro Vavuris | With Permission
As seniors enter their last semester, many say that they hope to rekindle the sense of school spirit which they feel has been lost as a result of the coronavirus pandemic—its restrictions in some ways fragmenting the community.
“I feel that the community has lacked school spirit throughout the pandemic,” senior Asher Thomson said.
Thomson and others say they attribute such declines in school spirit to less large-scale events and traditions, which previously played a large role in shaping Stuart Hall’s community.
“As a freshman and sophomore I remember going to basketball games and seeing large parts of the school community joining together,” Student Body President Joseph Shea said. “I always felt that this was a prime example of the sense of pride and spirit that so many in the Stuart Hall community have for their school.”
“Due to coronavirus restrictions we weren’t able to exhibit these qualities or share in these experiences anymore, or at least to the extent that we used to,” Shea said.
At the start of the school year, it seemed this would change as coronavirus cases decreased in prevalence according to the New York Times. Student leaders began attempting to reconnect the community they say had been fragmented due to the pandemic by re-establishing old traditions.
“This year we restarted the ‘Xtreme Basketball League in hopes of reigniting the community’s shared love for basketball and to build back the community that we saw so prevalently during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years,” Shea said.
The XBL was originally started by Maxi Tellini and Joseph Weinstein, the class of 2020’s Student Body President and Vice President respectively, but was ended abruptly with the start of the pandemic.
“The XBL games brought some great friendly competition for the students at the start of the school year which gave the school a much needed event to rally behind and get excited about,” Spirit Representative Eric Lee said.
Much of this progress was halted by the advent of the Omicron variant. Among other things, student attendance to home basketball games was prohibited, an especially decisive blow given the significance many say basketball has at Stuart Hall.
“Some of my favorite memories of high school are of pre-Covid sports games when a huge portion of the student body would attend basketball games, even on weeknights, to cheer on the Knights,” Thomson said. “I had never felt so proud to be part of a group of people.”
Student council, in response, has looked to increase virtual awareness of sporting event live streams through the KnightsAdvice instagram account, as well as new practices like Monday ‘Minders, a weekly email briefing for the whole school on upcoming events.
“I think KnightsAdvice instagram plays a big role in rallying the student body and letting them communicate with the student council more directly,” Lee said. “Because in-person events are out of the picture for the moment, outreach via social media is important.”
Seniors say, however, that although they are sad to miss out on school traditions and events, it is most important that these events are reinstituted by later generations of Knights.
“The most frustrating thing about this whole thing is no one can really control it,” Thomson said. “I know the school is doing the best it can given the circumstances. But, I look forward to a time, whether it be before or after I graduate, when students can bring back the iconic energy of Stuart Hall school spirit that has been so integral to my high school experience.”