School spirit is in many ways the heart of a school. Pride is a school spirit synonym because it helps foster a sense of belonging among students and staff who are part of the school. It is often a direct reflection of a school’s culture, which can serve as a powerful influence on overall academic performance. A strong sense of school spirit makes staff and students feel more invested in their school, which makes them happier and motivates them to work harder and help each other out. Schools at every level can improve their culture and performance by actively promoting school spirit on their campus.
School spirit is generally defined as a sense of pride, identity and community shared by members of an educational organization.
What Is School Spirit?
When it’s at its strongest, school spirit inspires active participation in school activities and events. While most people associate school spirit with high attendance for pep rallies and athletic events, it also involves joining school clubs and participating in all kinds of extracurricular activities. Uniforms and club shirts serve as a form of spirit wear, meaning that following a dress code helps promote a sense of belonging to the school family. Positive relationships between staff and students foster a strong sense of school spirit. Many schools host annual spirit weeks where everyone is encouraged to dress up according to a predetermined theme.
Significance of School Pride
When people take pride in something, they tend to work harder and feel more invested than they would without that sense of pride. For better or worse, school spirit is contagious. Students and staff who show enthusiasm for being a part of the school are likely to encourage their peers to follow suit, which yields greater participation in school activities and boosts both morale and performance. Since the opposite also holds true, though, students and staff who exhibit disdain or apathy toward their role in the school can have detrimental effects on morale and performance. Schools with a stronger sense of pride and spirit typically outperform their competition in both athletic and academic arenas.
What Does School Spirit Look Like?
School spirit looks like teamwork. It involves events and activities that bring members of the school community together in some way. In addition to its positive impact on morale and performance, school spirit is generally fun. It celebrates successes and creates a sense of togetherness. From colorful posters reflecting schoolwide goals to award ceremonies, special events and team-building activities, school spirit looks like a community of learners and educators working together for the greater good.
School Spirit at the Elementary Level
For students at the primary level, fun is the name of the school spirit game. One simple way to have fun while showing school spirit is to schedule dress-up days based on a common theme. Students can come to school in their most comfortable pajamas for pajama day, or they can dress up like their favorite storybook character. Pep rallies are another way for elementary schools to dial up the fun and the sense of pride. During the pep rally, schools can play lively music and even make their own songs to sing about their community. Games make another great component to pep rallies. Students can be randomly selected to represent each grade level and then compete in a variety of games while the school cheers them on. Movie nights to promote family involvement can also be useful school spirit events.
School Spirit at the Secondary Level
Just like their elementary counterparts, secondary schools can also benefit from hosting themed dress-up days and lively pep rallies or spirit assemblies. Schools can line the hallways with exceptional examples of student work and creativity. Field days and teacher vs. student athletic competitions are fun ways to fuel school spirit and team building. A school talent show can increase school spirit by giving community members a chance to shine while doing what they do best. Secondary schools can also host themed dances where students can let loose and show off their best dance moves.
School Spirit at the Postsecondary Level
School spirit is just as important in higher education as it is in the lower levels. From museum nights to theater performances and sports competitions, colleges and universities have no shortage of ways to boost their school spirit. Making and selling spirit wear that reflects the school’s sports teams is also a useful way to promote a sense of pride at the postsecondary level.
- Edutopia: A Principal’s Perspective: The Importance of School Culture
- National Federation of State High School Associations: Survey Shows Students With School Spirit Are Top Achievers
- We Are Teachers: 50 Surefire Ways to Build School Spirit!
- ASCD in Service: How To Inspire A Culture Of Strong School Spirit
- SignUpGenius: 50 Spirit Day Ideas for Elementary Schools
- Education to the Core: Tips and Ideas for School Pep Rallies
Kristina Barroso earned a B.A. in Psychology from Florida International University and works full-time as a classroom teacher in a public school. She teaches middle school English to a wide range of students from struggling readers to advanced and gifted populations. In her spare time, she loves writing articles about education for TheClassroom.com, WorkingMother and other education sites.