A cheerleader's job involves more than tumbling and cheers. Cheerleaders also play a role in boosting a school's spirit. School spirit events can help all students feel like they belong and are contributing the the school's success. Think beyond sporting events to come up with ways to get every student involved in supporting the school. Start with some of these school spirit ideas and then use your own creativity to come up with new ones.
Typically held the week of the homecoming football game, spirit week is a time to get the entire school involved in showing school spirit. During spirit week, each day is centered around a different theme, such as pajama day or twin day, and students dress the part of the day. Students are enticed to participate with the promise of prizes for the best dressed and the ability to focus a little less on academics for a week. In addition to theme days, spirit week can include:
- Class competitions
- Student-staff games
- School fundraisers
- Decking the school out in school colors
- Pep rallies
- Talent shows
Heavy advertising is the key to a successful spirit week. Finalize all of the spirit week events at least two weeks in advance and begin hanging posters advertising spirit week around the school. The week before, start reminding students to participate over the morning announcements or the school news show. The more you get students and teachers talking about spirit week, the more likely they are to actually participate in the events you plan.
A pep rally is traditionally held to support the school football or basketball team and help get the entire school pumped up about a big game. However, pep rallies do not have to focus solely on sports. Instead of focusing on one sport, arrange a pep rally during each sport's season to recognize all student athletes. Include the school's other competition teams, such as the debate team or chess team in the pep rally as well. Pep rallies can also be used to:
- Get students pumped up for midterms or finals
- Introduce a major school fundraiser
- Celebrate successes within the school
- Kick off or end the school year
During the pep rally, plan activities to get all students on their feet and excited about their school, including:
- Singing the school's fight song
- Awarding a spirit stick to the class that can scream the loudest
- Teaching students a new cheer
- Performing class cheers
- Inviting students to the mic to share why they love their school (you may want to choose students beforehand to avoid inappropriate comments)
Planning a pep rally does not require a lot of advance preparation, but teachers and other school staff will want to know a week or two in advance so they can plan accordingly.
Some schools ring a victory bell after every win or hold an annual student-staff volleyball game. Others have an ice cream social or a picnic on the last day of school. It's never too late to start your own school tradition and give students something to look forward to after every win, every quarter, or once a year. A simple tradition, such as ending the announcements the day of a big game with the school fight song, does not require a lot of planning or effort, while a more complex tradition, such as an annual back-to-school carnival, will require months of planning, fundraising and a lot of student and community volunteers.
Some other suggestions for school traditions include:
- Starting each day with an energizing song over the announcements
- Flooding a local restaurant with students after home football and basketball games (this may require advance notice so the restaurant's staff can be prepared for the deluge)
- Tailgating before football games
- Holding an annual food drive
School dances give students a chance to let their hair down and have a little fun. Every school dance does not have to be prom-quality or require students to dress up. In fact, a casual dance on a Friday night may attract more students than a fancy affair. All you need for a school dance is a place to dance, a DJ and some adult chaperones. You can sell tickets to help pay for other events or use the dance as a reward for academic excellence or another accomplishment. Whatever you decide, a dance gives students a safe place to hang out during the evening and a chance to mingle with one another.
Work with school staff to make sure that all safety regulations are adhered to and that the requisite number of chaperones will be present for the dance. You'll also want to ensure you have a committee of volunteers willing to help clean up after the dance is over.
What better way to bring students together than by helping others. Encourage students to get involved and give back by planning community service events for them to participate in. Events can be done by grade-level or on an entire school level. Not only will students feel like they are involved in the school, they will feel better about themselves too. Try a few of these community service events:
- Hold a food drive for a local food bank or families in need
- Clean up trash around the school grounds or at local parks and recreation areas
- Start a program to tutor kids at a local elementary school
- Partner with a nursing home and visit residents on a weekly or monthly basis
- Raise money for a local charity
- Hold a 5K or charity walk
- Work with a local Habitat for Humanity program or soup kitchen
- Adopt a local park or road and regularly meet to clean it up
- Gather supplies needed by your local pet shelter, such as blankets and pet food, for a large donation
Just as family dinners can bring a family closer together, school dinners can bring a school family closer together. Hold monthly or quarterly dinners where students and their families can pay a small fee and have dinner at the school. The proceeds from the dinners can be used to cover the cost of future dinners or to help support upcoming events. During the dinner, have performances by students in the band or drama club or invite local businesses to set up tables to advertise.
A school dinner must be planned at least a month in advance to make sure you have time to purchase all of the supplies and gather enough volunteers to help cook. Simple dinners such as spaghetti or hot dogs and chips are inexpensive and easy to prepare. Contact local merchants to see if they will help by donating a portion of the food, beverages, and supplies needed for the event.
Give students a chance to show their spirit by selling spirit gear that boasts the school colors, emblem, and mascot. The gear may be sold through regular fundraisers throughout the year or always made available through the school store. Proceeds can be used to support other school spirit events. Think beyond t-shirts when planning what gear to sell. Options include:
- Sweatshirts and hoodies
- Letter jackets
- Temporary tattoos
- Pom poms
- ID holders
Remember to promote the spirit gear to parents around the holidays. Spirit gear makes great Christmas gifts and even parents of less-spirited students may spring for something for their teens. A few places to find spirit gear to sell at your school include:
- Spirit Line sells a ton of spirit gear options for your school, including temporary tattoos, car gear and spirit packs. The company also designs fundraisers to help schools profit off of their spirit gear sales and has some of the lowest prices.
- SpiritGear lets you design your own t-shirts, gifts and glassware. You can include your school's logo or special images. The gear may also be personalized to appeal to specific clubs, organizations or school events.
- MyLocker is another option for creating customized spirit gear. Through the website you can create a shop for your school and earn commissions whenever products are purchased online. Instead of selling items in the school, parents and students can order spirit gear online and have it shipped directly to their homes. This allows you to offer more designs and avoids the hassle of handling money or keeping track of orders.
Get Others Involved
While a cheerleader's job is to bolster school spirit, you do not have to do it alone. In fact, getting non-cheerleaders involved in planning events designed to improve school spirit will help improve the success of your events. Form a school spirit club, full of students who want to volunteer to help with school events. Partner with other school teams, clubs, and student council to get their help with planning and sponsoring events. The more types of students involved in planning, the easier it will be to spread the word and get a good turnout at all of your festivities.