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A Look back on the Evolution of Tuscarora Spirit

A Look back on the Evolution of Tuscarora Spirit


Student Section 2014

By Danielle Matta

School spirit: the notion either sends shivers down your spine or prompts very fond, colorful memories. It’s an inevitable part of the high school experience, regardless of whether you’re in the center of the action or scowling on the sidelines. When I first came to Tuscarora as a freshman, I already had Hollywood-inspired ideas about what high school spirit would be like— huge, over-the-top pep rallies, a marching band that serenaded every class change, and a musically inclined basketball team (perhaps High School Musical was not the most accurate depiction).

But what I soon witnessed was not even close to what I had envisioned.  The school year of 2011-2012 at Tuscarora was not one of spirit—it was one of apathy. I remember being surrounded by the grumbles of upperclassmen, and the nervous murmurs of my underclassmen peers: “I heard at Heritage High School they do it differently—,” “Well at Loudoun County High School this is way better—,” and the like.

The issue that Tuscarora had during its first two years was not necessarily a student body that lacked school spirit, but one that was convinced a different high school deserved their appreciation more.  When Tuscarora first opened, the upperclassmen had already spent a year or two at another high school. As testing coordinator and SCA sponsor Mrs. Crawford said, “Back then we were trying really hard, but everybody was coming with their different ideas. It was a lot of comparing [Tuscarora spirit] to the spirit from whatever school they came from.”

And so the result was lackluster effort. The student body was generally unadjusted to their new allegiance to Tuscarora, and, simply put, was totally not feeling it. I remember being the only pirate in my geometry class while we took our PSAT during spirit week, and feeling like a freshman fool.

But somewhere between then and now, I felt there was a distinct shift.  I watched as my peers began noticing the successes of our sports teams, and even those who were not playing wanted a piece of the glory. And with the surge of spirit in the Tusky Terror came a surge of spirit throughout the school; suddenly, students were proud to be at Tuscarora High School. “That group of kids that started loving the school they were currently attending really changed things. It just made everybody feel like it was okay to have Tuscarora school spirit,” Mrs. Crawford said.

The change is not just my imagination; 75% of 100 upperclassmen surveyed dressed up for this year’s Spirit Week, and 85% cheered during our homecoming pep rally. Even more impressive is our attendance to sporting events: 90% of upperclassmen have been to a game this year, and of those in attendance, 92% actually watch the game and cheer. For a student body of almost 2,000 kids, these statistics are incredible.

“This year was the absolute best year we’ve had so far. I feel like everything is clicking. It’s 180 degrees different. Now [spirit] is a more natural thing. Now it’s moving itself forward,” said Mrs. Crawford.

When I’m cheering in Tusky Terror and I look back at our stands and see students having to stand sideways because our student section is so packed, I’m filled with pride. I know being spirited and cheering on our teams evokes eye rolls from some students, but to me, it cultivates an atmosphere that makes me feel united with my class, school and community. It breaks up the monotony of high school, and makes everyday a little more exciting. “You’ve got to love and support your school no matter where you go. It’s hard to be the first one of your friends to dress like a fool at school or scream your head off at a game but it’ll spread,” said senior Ryan Cambetes, one of the Tusky Terror spirit leaders.

Of course, we are still young as a school, and our school spirit certainly has room to grow. After the fall sports season, our support of the winter and spring teams could be improved. Our Spirit Weeks and pep rallies could definitely be louder, more colorful and more enthused. But we’re on the right track.

“If people just start putting themselves out there, there’s no doubt in my mind that our spirit will spread across the whole student body,” Cambetes said.

Some of my peers in the past have asked why I care—Why do I go to football games? Why do I dress up for Spirit Week? Why do I cheer and volunteer? Why bother?

My answer, every time, is why not? You’ve got four years here at Tuscarora. Make the best of it.

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