School spirit? Oh yeah, I’m into it!
Well…maybe not in the way most people think of the term.
When I was in grade school, the concept of taking pride in one’s institution of education was a foreign concept. School was a place I went to learn stuff, end of story. However, as I grew older and manifested a desire to be part of a closer group, I found that closeness in school organizations. At first it was cheerleading, then middle school marching and concert band. As the majority of these activities required me to take part in athletic events in some way, acquiring “school spirit” was a part of the package if I wanted to look awesome and shout on the basketball sidelines or play flute at football games.
This is what “school vs. school” spirit looked like to me in high school – one big fight.
By the time I finally made it to high school, the roaring blaze of my school spirit was beginning to die down. Something had changed. Rather than playing in marching and pep band because I wanted to support my school, I participated because I wanted to continue learning and playing music. Even in school-related functions that I undertook, such as my unsuccessful attempt at running for sophomore homecoming queen, I did them not because I wanted to contribute to the school but because I thought they would be fun. (A gorgeous dress, strutting my stuff in front of the whole gymnasium, forcing the majority of the student population who thinks you’re a nerdy loser to pay attention to you? Who wouldn’t leap at that chance?) Even when I began my own school-centered organization, the Cumberland Gap High School Anime Club, I did so not to enrich my school but to create a place of belonging for those who wanted to share a common interest.
In short, I stopped seeing myself as part of a school and began seeing myself as part of something beyond a community defined by a mascot.
When I began attending LMU, some part of me thought that I would begin taking pride in my specific institution of education again. Surprisingly for me, that wasn’t the case. Don’t misunderstand me; LMU is a wonderful school, and I’m intensely grateful to be able to study at a university where I feel so at home. At such a small and close-knit school where I instantly found a ring of friends and my professors know me on a first-name basis, I feel like an individual, a scholar, not a number on a class roster like I would feel at a larger university. That being said, pride in the “team”, whether it be an athletic team, a club, or the school community at large, exists here as it does everywhere.
Both within and beyond this team mentality, there is a much larger and stronger team that I discovered here and take pride in: a universal community of scholars, thinkers, and learners. Through speaking with and learning from the professors from various departments (especially my preferred one, English), I’ve come to discover that this sense of scholarly thinking is very present at this university. I’ve seen the university’s Pep Band director get so into the basketball games we attend and play for that it’s almost gotten me into the sports mentality; however, the games eventually end, and he remains a scholar of music rather than a participant in the just-for-fun conflict between teams. I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw him the next day in a jam session with other musicians from competitive colleges.
Team-mentality-based school spirit is something that exists, and can be important or unimportant for individual people; it can unite, but it can also divide. However, the spirit that all of us as students possess is the spirit of the scholar; our presence at the university alone proves this. We are privileged enough that we can spend years of our lives learning about whatever mysteries of the universe that we see fit to study – and we care enough to take advantage of the opportunity. All students – whether they’re grade-schoolers, LMU students, students at other universities, or unofficial students who take every chance they have to study something new – are united by our desire to learn.
No matter when, where, or how we go about learning, the important thing is that we learn.
This semester is drawing to a close, readers – a busy time that I can’t wait to tell you about! Feel free to follow my blog to keep up with the excitement.