There are many words that can be used to describe Gleneagle: diverse, inclusive, polite, hardworking, communal. Each individual has their own unique definition of the school that is based on their personal experiences and perspectives. Given this diversity, Gleneagle struggles to find a clear overarching school spirit.
School culture is a central part of the high school experience. It is often said that when students look back on their time in the education system, they will not remember projects or tests, but instead, will remember the memories made with classmates.
A shared student culture manifests itself in a variety of ways: participating in spirit week, rallying around a sporting event, or wearing school-branded merchandise. This spirit helps a school to define its identity and create a place of belonging.
At Gleneagle, participation in school-wide events tends to be low. Despite the fact that spirit weeks and dances are meant to bring students together, there is not a high interest surrounding these events.
The same can be said about Gleneagle houses, a system introduced two years ago that was meant to unify students across grades, but was left behind when it was not accepted by the student body.
In comparison to other schools in the district and beyond, it is clear that Gleneagle has little student buy-in when it comes to building culture through traditional school spirit events.
Just because Gleneagle does not celebrate out loud, does not mean it lacks pride. Rather, Gleneagle offers many programs that inspire school pride on a different scale. Students have the opportunity to create strong connections among small groups through many distinct niches, including sports teams, the performing arts, and specialized programs such as TALONS and COAST. These subcultures provide individualized experiences that make Gleneagle feel like home to many. This diversity defines Gleneagle.
However, this diversity divides Gleneagle. When there is nothing that all students can bond over, it is easy for individuals to become so comfortable within their specific niches, that they don’t engage with the rest of the school.
Without a common sense of spirit or identity, an overall Gleneagle culture cannot exist. In order to develop strong school spirit, the Gleneagle community must work together. As the school is already filled with many distinct subcultures, the easiest way to create overall culture is by combining these smaller groups together.
For example, one of the most successful school events each year is the spring carnival, where all of the school’s clubs come together to host one big event. Although each group has its own specialization, all students bond under the umbrella of one large event.
If the school hosts more activities like this, Gleneagle’s culture would flourish.
Once the school has developed a culture, there is no room for complacency. For the culture to remain relevant, students and staff must reflect regularly on Gleneagle’s identity, in terms of how it is defined and how it lines up with current beliefs.
School spirit is at the heart of school culture. Without it, school is nothing more than an institution.