Got Spirit?

Many of you have probably seen the never-ending emails crowding your inbox advertising Poly Spirit Cup events. Recently, the Middle School has had numerous team-building activities as part of the Gray vs. Blue competition, but there is often controversy among students surrounding most of them. While some students think these meetings enforce lessons crucial to building a healthy community, others think they are a waste of time.

A new addition to the school, recent Spirit Cup events have ranged from basketball tournaments to talent shows and reading competitions. “As this is the first year of the Spirit Cup, I have been interested in seeing what types of events students respond positively to,” said Director of Student Life Jared Winston. “For example, students really enjoyed Field Day, Poly’s Got Talent, and the Olympics. At the end of the year, I will send out a survey to MS students to brainstorm what events we might incorporate next year. Eventually, we want all ideas and efforts influencing Spirit Cup program- ming to come from our students with the support of our MS Senate representatives.”

However, are the attempts paying off? Middle School’s most recent Spirit Cup event was a scavenger hunt. Students from 6th to 8th grade were broken up into teams based on their school color for the Spirit Cup––blue or gray. For about an hour, students raced around campus, cutting corners, and jumping through the hallways to find their assigned locations, which were written on clues. At each destination, a student would have to complete a challenge to receive their next clue.

This seemingly wholesome activity received negative feedback from over a dozen 6th graders interviewed for this story, many of whom described the scavenger hunt as unenjoyable. In fact, this most recent Spirit Cup event was sometimes the only one complained about. “Honestly, the only [Spirit Cup Event] I didn’t like was the scavenger hunt. It was kind of chaotic,” said 6th grader Alisa Kushnirsky.

Although the hunt was described by some as “boring,” the chief complaint was about the teams. “I think that they could’ve used more variety in the teams gender-wise, but also age-wise. The teams could’ve been bigger, so everyone was not running into each other,” said 6th grader Nora Panzo. Sixth-grade Senator Leonardo Yang responded to the criticism in an email saying that although his team only had one girl, “that seemed to be the exception as looking at other teams, the gender split seemed fairly balanced. As for the team size, I thought that it was a good number. Anything larger would have actually resulted in more chaos in my opinion.”

The final complaint was that the chaos of students moving at top speed down the crowded hallways caused many people to separate from their initial group members.

“The teams in the scavenger hunt should have been [made up of] people from the same grade,” added 6th grader Barzel BenDov. Winston responded in an interview, saying, “The idea to have a ‘Battle of the Grades’ type of Scavenger Hunt is really interesting! This is definitely a model we can look into for this year’s event. While it might not expose students to peers from other grades, it might make the event more personal and fulfilling for those involved.”

However, the most favorable reviews came from activities involving sports at the start of the new school year. “I loved the dodgeball event. It was excellent. There was a lot of activity and we got to make new friends since it was the beginning of the year,” said 5th grader Jon Balikci.

The Spirit Cup exists to make sure students are provided with the best Poly experience possible. However, activities similar to these bridge larger ideas of inclusion and belonging. “The Spirit Cup is an extension of a longstanding Poly tradition — the Blue/ Gray competition,” said Winston. “The competition had been [only] a field day full of athletics and activities in the past. Under-
standing the various interests of our diverse student body, the Spirit Cup builds upon that tradition to include a variety of activities across areas like arts, athletics, and service.”