It is naïve to think that there are no lingering effects from a year and a half spent in quarantine and remote school. Our return to full in-person schooling marks the end of the physical isolation of the pandemic, but our community is still healing from the scars of being apart for more than a year.
Strict social-distancing protocols and stay-at-home orders meant 63 percent of young people were experiencing “substantial symptoms of anxiety and depression,” according to a study conducted by the Center of Disease Control in June 2020. Another survey of 950 Americans, conducted by the Making Caring Common Project out of the Harvard Graduate School of Education in October 2020, found that 61 percent of young adults were experiencing “serious loneliness.”
Our school should be prioritizing recovery from this widespread loneliness and providing opportunities for students to rebuild their community. However, amid students scrambling to rebuild connections, the high school administration has unfortunately decided to postpone the largely-anticipated annual Powerpuff, the all-girls football game.
In order to develop a supportive and united community, it is vital that our school maintains the strong school spirit that existed before the pandemic. Without school spirit, there will not only be a lack of involvement in the community, but students will feel disconnected from their peers and experience loneliness similar to that felt at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The postponement of Powerpuff and the ongoing global pandemic have contributed to the lack of unity within our high school. It has been over 660 days since our last school-wide assembly, which was our annual Martin Luther King Jr. assembly, in January of 2020. The Class of 2022 did not have a semi-formal dance last year, the Class of 2024 has never experienced Powerpuff and the class of 2025 has yet to experience any school-wide events.
A lack of school spirit can cause students to feel distant from their community. In a survey of over 1,000 students in 2014, The Harris Poll found that 70 percent of students who had high levels of school spirit felt happier, more confident and were more involved in their communities.
The lack of community-building events has allowed connections between students and the school community to remain detached and has increased divisions within and across grade levels. Students in three out of the four grade levels began their high school experiences in a separate freshman building.
By postponing Powerpuff until the spring at the earliest, the administration is making a significant mistake. Powerpuff is an excellent opportunity for students to come together and celebrate school spirit; students get to know one another by bonding over the shared experience of training for and playing during Powerpuff, and the wider community has the shared experience of experiencing Powerpuff together.
After two years since the last Powerpuff, waiting even longer to bring the community together will only further divide our school. While the administration’s decision must presumably come with reason, it also comes at the great cost of school spirit and unity.