Opinion: Get spirit for the love of the Grizzlies

Photo by Annel Lopez    Empty bleachers have plagued sports teams at Payton. Will it change with the new gym?


By Caroline Bernet

While Payton students are great at hitting the books, there is one complaint – Payton is not known for school spirit.

Unlike other selective enrollment schools, our pep rallies do not make it to the local news or even Snapchat. This year, Lane Tech’s pep rally was broadcast on WGN for the entire Chicagoland area.

Payton continues to grow in state and national recognition academically, but we are not recognized for bleeding blue and orange by any means.

Hanna Mularczyk ‘17 said that she does not feel like school spirit ever really made sense for a place like Payton: “I think school spirit and football culture is really a suburban thing and us being in an urban setting makes that sort of unnecessary…[at Payton] so many kids are involved in so many interesting things, and sports is one of those, but so are academic teams, activism, service, etc., which don’t really inspire crowds, but that’s not a bad thing.”

Some students feel that school spirit is not necessary to create a substantial high school experience.

But is this only because upperclassmen have normalized this culture? According to Mary Ellis ‘20, “There is not much school spirit, and I didn’t really expect much…sometimes I wish there was more. Other schools that do have school spirit make it seem like a lot of fun.”

According to studies conducted by the Connecticut Association of Schools, higher levels of school spirit have led to 88 percent of students feeling happier, 87 percent of students more involved in the community, and 73 percent of students feeling more fulfilled.

Basically, school spirit has a positive impact on students. Cheering at a volleyball game sounds a lot better than comparing each other’s test scores at Starbucks.

One club, Youth Wellness Team, works hard to not only reform Payton’s health curriculum but also promote bettering student wellness both mentally and physically.

Youth Wellness Team is well acquainted with how Payton’s environment impacts students.

Hollis Baker ‘17, Youth Wellness Team Leader, said, “Payton is unique in that it is such a rigorous academic environment, which in a lot of ways can be motivating and encourage everyone’s growth, but can also breed competition and stress amongst students.”

Payton culture has been identified as intense and stressful, and school spirit is not always at an all time high.

“I think it’s important to promote school spirit because Payton is a fairly diverse place,” says Will Trlak ‘18, vice president of Payton’s Grrr! Club, a club devoted to promoting school spirit. “People often fail to recognize the diversity of our students, staff and everyone who walks through the doors. With school spirit, we all have something to rally behind, to support and to give our all to. School spirit provides us all with at least one commonality.”

In terms of the current state of Payton’s school spirit, Will said, “Currently, at least for me, Payton’s school spirit is not what it could be. My goals for the future are for everyone to feel proud of their school, and [for] this pride to be unabashed. We want the school to be oozing spirit.”

Overall, school spirit sounds like it would only benefit our school and its students. Competition and stress take control of students’ schedules every day.

Taking a break every once in awhile to support each other won’t have WGN filming our pep rally next fall, but it can’t hurt.

Maybe a couple of students going to a game will one day turn into a trend, and then a culture.

Perhaps this culture will spark small talk revolving around team wins, as opposed to stressful homework loads.

What I do know is that singing “We got spirit!” with the entire student body has always left a bigger smile on my face than refreshing student portal.

Payton plays Latin in the new gym. Stands are thin as students adjust to having a larger space:

The Fall Pep Rally was an attempt to unite the school in spirit in the new gym. Students could not previously fit in the same room for all-school activities.

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Categories: featured, Features, Sports, Videos

1 reply »

  1. Check out the crowd shot from the  last basketball game of the year. Payton Booster Association gave away Ts to the first 50 students and the bleachers were packed. Several students were involved in helping to ensure a student-only section was created.

    Boosters is committed to helping increase Payton school spirit and we welcome student ideas and participation at any time. 

    Go Grizzlies!

    Carter Smith PBA President

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