Too Despicable? The School Spirit Controversy

Some students are concerned that school-wide spirit days are not inclusive and accessible to all.

Riley Petersen

A recent meeting to decide Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School’s homecoming spirit week sparked large controversy. Normally, this meeting consists of SGA officers and members of the spirit committee. However, this year, the meeting doubled in size to nearly 40 people, including members of the B-CC LSU, BSU, and GSA. “It became really difficult to get anything done,” said spirit committee member Lael Spalter. “Whenever ideas came up, someone almost always had a reason why it wouldn’t work.”

“Whenever ideas came up, someone almost always had a reason why it wouldn’t work.”

Accessibility was a main topic of debate during this meeting. Many people have become concerned with making sure that school-wide spirit days are inclusive and something everyone is able to do. “We were told that ideas such as minion day and neon were not allowed because students may not have neon or yellow shirts,” Lael explained. Even ideas brought up such as USA were immediately deemed offensive despite having been done numerous times in years past, including as recent as Homecoming Spirit Week 2018.
The committee also came up with numerous new themes that had never been done before such as monochromatic day. However, these ideas brought a new issue to the table: the concern about how many students would actually participate in this theme. “It was really hard to find themes that we thought students would really enjoy but also were very inclusive and non-offensive, especially considering everyone had a different opinion of what was and wasn’t okay,” said Lael. B-CC has the privilege of embodying a diverse demographic, which comes with the factor of a large population with all different points of views.
Spirit days are a tradition almost as old as B-CC itself. Whether it is a sports team dressing up with a specific theme on a gameday, homecoming spirit week, or a theme night for a big sporting event, B-CC students love to dress up and amplify their school spirit.
In the past, B-CC spirit day themes have been pretty diverse, with themes ranging from girls soccer’s traditional “goth day,” to the basketball game theme of “tropical” where free leis were handed out to the first 40 fans. However, in recent years, the line has been redrawn for what is and is not okay for school spirit.