Akshay Gaddamanugu and George BensonMonday, February 6, 2023
The above photo was taken at the girls varsity basketball area tournament play-in game on Monday, February 6. The team beat Holy Family Cristo Rey 30-6.
My friends and I often discuss Altamont's school spirit or lack thereof. It’s a discussion that came up once again in the wake of the winter sports assembly. As someone who has attended pep rallies and sporting events at Berry Middle School, a Hoover public school with over 1,200 students, I know what it takes to create ample noise. Since coming to Altamont, I have noticed one major difference: We lack school spirit! While there is a profound difference in student populations between Altamont and area public schools, I still believe that the school spirit at Altamont is much lower than it should be. I also think this is a cause of the low turnout of students at most Altamont events.
We ran an admittedly unscientific voluntary-response survey on this matter in Morning Report the week of January 16. I was surprised by the results. When students were asked if they regularly attend Altamont sporting events or theatrical events, only 13 percent answered that they do regularly attend these events. Similarly, 13 percent answered that they never go to such events. But 74 percent of students answered "occasionally." The results of this specific question did not shock me too much.
However, the entire school didn’t answer the poll. I don’t believe that 74 percent of the school population actually attends these events even "occasionally." I say this because I have attended four varsity basketball games this year, and I do not see many new faces at each game; instead, I see the same passionate students cheering on the school.
Additionally, 77 percent of Altamont students who responded to the poll said Altamont lacks school spirit or somewhat lacks school spirit. This is exactly what I would expect. I don’t feel that it is a “somewhat.” I feel it is a yes. I believe that Altamont has a full-blown school spirit issue. I think the majority of Altamont students and faculty acknowledge this issue but brush it aside. The 34 people who selected “somewhat” captured the profound feeling on the Hill. I truly feel people at Altamont do not care enough about this matter to change it.
I frequently speak with my friends about how Altamont lacks school spirit, but then when I ask them if they want to go to the game the next day, they always say “no” and cite some excuse like “track practice” or something else. Now, I’m not saying attending games is the only way to show school spirit, but it in my opinion it’s the best way.
Finally, the last question in our non-scientific poll asked what people thought was the leading cause of the lack of spirit. Roughly 32 percent said there aren’t enough reasons for excitement around Altamont. This is quite surprising. I think if you look at the sports teams and theatrical productions this year, there are plenty of intriguing storylines.
The varsity girls’ basketball team is one example of this. There was no varsity girls’ basketball team during the 2021-2022 school year. This year the team is back in action, but the majority of the team is very young. Even seventh-graders are playing significant minutes. The team full of youthful exuberance is improving day by day and should be a reason for excitement. The varsity volleyball team also had a great season while having to deal with players dropping out mid-season. Finally, the theater program also had a great fall season, with many accomplishments including statewide awards and the “Legally Blonde” musical, which was a hit. I simply do not understand the claim that there are not exciting things happening on the Hill.
More than a quarter of students claimed that there is too much pressure or focus on academics. I can fully understand this claim. Altamont students face immense pressure on academics. I believe that this is the true reason for the lack of school spirit. The culture at Altamont is studious. However, I believe that there can be a fine balance between being diligent in your schoolwork, but also being able to find the time to attend these events. So, concluding on that point, the Altamont community does focus too much on academics, but does not try hard to enough to have the culture of high school spirit.
Next, 23 percent of students claimed that the sports, debate, and theatrical programs are not emphasized enough. Although, I feel that even if the teams were front and center, the same problems would still exist.
In the past at The Altamont School, I have noticed a lack of student presence at school sporting events. I genuinely believe there could be more excitement around sporting events at our school. Based on the information from our poll, of the people who responded, 19 people said yes, there is a lack of school spirit and 34 people responded “somewhat.” One reason for this could be that people don’t know exactly when these events are happening. I do not think this is an uncommon problem, and this could be a reason for the lack of student support.
I personally do not agree with most of the answers we received to the question "If yes, what do you believe is the leading cause?" (This was a follow up question to the question "Does the Altamont community lack school spirit?") Most of the people who responded to the poll say the leading cause is that there are not enough reasons for excitement.
However, when people do show up to games there is noticeable excitement, and the atmosphere is sometimes even ecstatic. Personally, I think the main reason behind the lack of school spirit is because of the focus on academics. This is not necessarily concerning pressure from teachers, but more so students putting schoolwork as a priority above going out and supporting their teams at Altamont. In my opinion this is a solid excuse, but it would be fantastic for everyone to come out and support the school more often.
The above is what should be seen at more games.
To share your thoughts on this or on anything you've seen in The Acta Diurna, to suggest story ideas, or to become a contributor, email MediaJournalismSpring2023@AltamontSchool.org.