Opinion editorials, reviews and personal essays
By Katrina Cherk
Dreaming of owning my own fashion line, I registered for AP Economics, hoping that it will instill some business sense in me. After two months in the course, I was stuck with an F. As if this wasn’t enough, my math course also slapped me in the face with a flunking grade. It was October and I had 2 F’s.
When I came out of my counselor’s office, I was drowning in news that didn’t make my day any brighter. Holding a sheet with “Course Drop Form” printed at the top, I felt conflicted.
One factor that prevented me from dropping the course was pressure. I didn’t want to let my teacher or my classmates down. I especially did not want to confirm the doubts my father showed about my course selection: “Are you sure you want to take this course? Okay. Just know that you may be immensely challenged.”
Though I handed back the form, unsigned, the devastation within me began to grow. I was sinking into despair. The looks on my Asian parents’ face didn’t make me feel any better.
Forced out of my math class with a standing F for three whole months, many nights I prayed that days would get better. Comparing myself to other classmates would make my eyes droop even lower than it already was, so I forbade myself to think like that. Homework piled, and when I was about to crack, I felt the waters beneath me rise.
D- was my first semester grade in AP Economics. I was at least treading water. Through constant pestering and guidance from my parents and teacher, perusing the textbook daily, answering practice questions online, and working through extra practice tests, I worked my way up.
I realized that it was my struggle to learn equations and theories that made me fail in the beginning months. I was having one of my toughest battles, trying my hardest to comprehend the more “logical” side of the world with my abstract and artistic brain.
Though I did not soar as high as others and stumbled from time to time, I slowly struggled upwards. As I reached higher and higher, a smile not only showed on my face, but on the faces of those who helped me.
By Amy Yang
Last Sunday, while I took a break from AP Econ reading, I laid out an outfit to start the new week off with. I don’t usually do this; organization is only necessary when I want to wear something complex (in this case, sweater cardigan, shirt, skirt, and knee-high socks). But when I loaded the Schoology home page later, I saw the Student Council announcement: it’s Spirit Week.
Begrudgingly, I considered putting all of it away, and going with the easy outfit suggested by StuCo: pajamas. School Spirit is important, right? I should at least make an effort. I care about SAS.
In past years, I mostly followed along with Spirit Week because dressing up in strange outfits seemed like a fun thing to do. Yet when I looked at my skirt that’s laid over my chair, and at my pajamas sitting on my bed, I found it hard to see how choosing one outfit over another benefits the school.
As someone who has never went to school in the US, the idea of Spirit Week was actually quite foreign to me when I came to SAS in eighth grade. In my first year here, I staunchly resisted any opportunity to show spirit—mostly because I didn’t want to transfer to SAS. Since then, I have changed a lot, and have grown fond of this community. It played a big role in shaping who I am. I’d love to show my appreciation—but is wearing pajamas really the way to do it?
As someone prone to overthinking—after all, the unexamined life is not worth living—I decided to examine the concept of School Spirit. Wikipedia isn’t much help. Its definition reads quite vaguely: “school spirit is emotional support for one's educational institution.” (The sidebar shows a photo of cheerleaders and the caption: “Cheerleaders are an important part of the expression of school spirit.”) I do emotionally support SAS—but is that all there is to School Spirit?
Another description lies in the description of the SAS Senior Awards in the Student Handbook. With the scholarship of $1000, “The SAS Pudong Spirit Award is presented to a Senior who has demonstrated through his/her extra-curricular activities an attitude of enthusiasm and support for the greater good of the school body.” (“The greater good” is ambiguous; I assume that it means the good of the entire student body in contrast to the good of oneself.)
Ironically, nowhere in the award description is school spirit events mentioned. According to the handbook, spirit is showed through the “participation in or attendance at a wide variety of sports and fine arts events.”
I don’t entirely agree with this definition—watching sports and practicing arts don’t necessarily contribute to the good of the entire student body. By no means do I oppose Spirit Week. Themed dress-up days sound fun. It shows unity and creativity of students. How does it bring good to the student body?
Spirit Week takes something profound and dumbs it down to wearing pajamas, like measuring love by counting the number of flowers one sends. Flowers are nice, but they are, after all, superficial. We should recognize that Spirit Week is not a real measurement of each student’s contribution to the school.
How should we measure school spirit, then? Actions speak louder than words. “Participation in or attendance at a wide variety of sports and fine arts events” is one way to show spirit, but I think it goes beyond that. School honor seems to be a big deal here, but when I brought home APAC trophies with the table tennis team, I could not see how that was for the “greater good of the school body” rather than a temporary glory of the team.
Instead, “enthusiasm and support for the greater good of the student body” brings to my mind the students who went out of their way to improve the school. I think of the students who founded a club to teach our faculty Mandarin to get around Shanghai. Yichen, who volunteered to create a club matrix for every club’s benefit. Last year’s StuCo execs, who transformed the organization’s role into something more meaningful.
The first step to celebrating school spirit is recognizing what it is. The above is merely an incomplete list of what I think embodies school spirit—it is way more than screaming and cheering during sports and spirit events. I have no qualms about not dressing up for spirit week, because I know that’s not what really matters. I do hope that one day, Spirit Week at least attempts to honor those who bring good to the school.