School Is for More than Learning. NYHS Needs School Pride, Too.

As a small Jewish school, we should make an effort to have as much pride in our Jewish identity as possible. NYHS needs to improve its school spirit by increasing  student activities. NYHS’ school climate needs to implement more student activities that are enjoyable and conducive to connecting students to their Jewish identity.

Yom Haatzmaut, Israel’s independence day, is a holiday that is celebrated by Jews across the globe on the Fifth of Iyar. Jews come together and form festivals featuring live music, Israeli food, fundraising, and carnival games. What makes these festivals special is the Jewish pride and the celebration of Israel and its success. This is the perfect opportunity to promote ruach (spirit) and excitement at school.

This year, at the heels of the pandemic as everyone returned to school permanently, NYHS struggled to infuse the year with school spirit. Now that the end of the year is coming, NYHS should start thinking about how to implement fun, spirited activities into the coming school year.

As a solution, students at NYHS should have a color war where they get to listen to loud music, do water activities, sports, and more. In rainy Seattle, though, sometimes that is not an option. Alternatively, the school could take us on a field trip to either a Seattle Mariners Baseball game, ice skating, or possibly an arcade like Dave and Busters.

In settings like these, when people are happy and having a good time in a Jewish environment, it puts people at ease and gets them having fun.

The school doesn’t plan events like this, even though the students try to advocate for the promotion of school spirit. Students come up with suggestions and are then advised to bring them up to an administrator, but the idea gets turned down or never goes anywhere. A great way for NYHS to handle this situation is to bring in an administrator for the specific job of running student activities. They would help students bring their ideas to the administration and also plan activities for the students.

Perhaps a reason why students aren’t always supportive and are not interested is because they haven’t experienced this excitement with school pride and activities.

Maybe they don’t know what they’re missing out on. Despite the fact that many NYHS students are SHA alumni and have seen what school spirit looks like, they might not think that it’s “cool” to be part of school activities. NYHS should take responsibility to show them the fun that we could have.

Although going to school to learn is very important, because we are a small Jewish school, we need to have school pride. School pride helps Jewish students connect to Judaism in an exciting way. If we did color war, it would have a Jewish spin on it, which would connect students to Yom Haatzmaut and to their Jewish identity. To promote more spirit for the coming year we should create more activities that include food and fun in addition to decorating the school and dressing up on spirit days.

School should be more than learning. Kids should be excited for school by having school pride, and having ruach would strengthen our Jewish identity at NYHS.