Students Losing Interest in High School Events


Vannia Duarte-Camacho

Cartoon depicting student participation during assemblies.

Samantha Sperry, Editor-in-Chief

Hollywood movies have portrayed high school as students coming together to make memories that they will hold close to them forever. They feature packed bleachers, full auditoriums, extravagant assemblies, students getting excited for after school events, and packed proms.
However, Benson tends to be on the opposite side of the spectrum. There are plenty of open seats at concerts and shows, there is little crowd participation during assemblies, and the student section at games rarely aligns with the theme.
Did the Mighty Bunnies lose the pep in their hop? Since welcoming Tom Wagner as principal, many renovations and updates to Benson have been made, which is vastly improving student involvement in activities.
“I think one of my main focuses is community,” Wagner said. “When I say community, I mean give back.”
According to Wagner, he wants to give back by representing Benson by getting our name and spirit out there.
“When you get involved with something you start taking ownership in it,” Wagner said. “That is when pride starts happening and that is what I am trying to build here is more pride.”
Benson High School offers many programs that a lot of schools around America do not offer, and many students tend to take that for granted.
Wagner recently started a student recognition system for students with grades no lower than C’s, no referrals, and at least 95% attendance.
“We are feeling our way through what we want that to look like on a regular basis,” Wagner said. “We have had two so far.”
The assembly is done during advisement. Wagner congratulates the students and then awards them with a sweet treat while encouraging them to continue their successful paths.
“I want to do some things like maybe a free tee shirt from The Bunny Cage or a free sweatshirt,” Wagner said. “I know [students] like donuts but something more than just a ‘hey good job’ and a donut from me.”
Other OPS schools have a similar system. Central High School hosts an annual Purple Feather Day celebration for students who attain a GPA of 3.5 or higher and decent attendance.
Central students also show their school spirit by attending games, music concerts, and school musicals. Their bleachers are nearly filled at most of their games and are usually dressed to match the theme, while Benson student sections are on the emptier, less enthusiastic side.
“They do announcements every single day in homeroom,” Rodriguez said. “They’ll announce everything that is coming up and give you enough information to make you want to go.”
Although Benson’s announcements are daily, they take place during advisement. Right before lunch, students tend to be talkative and loud, which can make it difficult to pay attention.
“Our announcements are during first hour,” Rodriguez said. “Mornings are easier because everyone is tired and doesn’t want to talk.”
Despite how loud and rowdy the hallways are, Benson’s pep rallies fall short of school spirit. The crowd tends to be more focused on their phones than the activities planned and rarely join in with the chants.
Millard South High School takes their pep rallies seriously, using them as an opportunity to tell students about upcoming events and introduce them to their teams.
Although Benson tries to get students more involved with sports and give them a look at the teams, many students seem uninterested. Some students chose not to go to the pep rallies all together.
Emily Laird, a junior at Millard South High School, was the school mascot at the beginning of her sophomore year. Each year, Millard South has four pep rallies.
“Millard South is kind of known for being insanely spirited,” Laird said.
According to Millard South Principal Heidi Weaver, student council, the senior class board, and cheerleaders are all involved in organizing the pep rallies.
Benson’s spirit days and themes for games and dances are organized by student council. However, according to senior Dean Hohn, the student council members only give opinions on themes that are eventually determined by staff members.
“[Student council will] try to find a variety of school celebrations to highlight,” Weaver said. “At each pep rally there is a spirit stick that is won by the class that displays the most school spirit.”
Their pep rallies are extremely student involved, consisting of baton twirling, cheers, student council games, dancing competitions and more. According to Weaver, student council organizes a freshman pep rally on their first day of school where they teach them the school fight song and common cheers.
Most Millard South students also participate in spirit week.
Many Benson students disregard the spirit days or simply don’t know about them. Typically, there are a couple of posters plastered in the commons or the halls displaying the themes, but most of the time they are overlooked.
“I don’t participate in the spirit days,” senior Emanual Gastelum said. “Mainly because I don’t know about them until that day.
Along with their Millard South’s extravagant rallies, the students are also involved in school activities. According to Laird, DECA, baseball, ROTC, and marching band are popular.
“[We have] a social media presence for the different clubs and an activities fair for all of the incoming freshman,” Weaver said. “We also have information posted in the announcements and teachers ask the students to join clubs.”
Benson tries to keep up with a social media presence on Facebook and Twitter, but do not advertise their accounts often, leaving many students unaware that the school has active pages.
Some students think that Benson is improving their student involvement in activities. The JROTC program is constantly involved with school activities, giving students the opportunity to participate in things like color guard and drill.
“There are about 26 cadets who are constantly involved [in JROTC] events,” Cadet Major Kaleb Askew said. “The numbers may be a little higher depending on what is going on and how many we need per event.”
One benefit of being a part of JROTC is the gym credit that comes along with the program. However, some students may use that to their advantage and only be involved in the program in place of a gym class.
“We do not know if that is the reason,” Askew said. “But from the trends that seems to be correct.”
Many teachers will plan in-class activities for their students to do that not only give students a slight brain break but are also another form of learning certain topics.
However, many students need a few minutes of convincing before participating in and are not willing to stand in front of the class in fear of being vulnerable. Not only does this waste class time, but students are also missing out on a unique learning experience.
Staff and students are still working to spread school spirit and get more people interested and involved in different activities.
“I don’t care about state titles,” Wagner said. “But if we can roll out to a tennis match with 30 girls getting off the bus to play tennis, that’s awesome.”
Students and staff came together to recruit next year’s freshman at open house. Open house gives Benson a chance to show what our school has to offer and how many opportunities it provides the students.
“I think our open house showcases and the revitalization of our academy programs through the activities and clubs gives Benson a unique niche in attracting and providing future involvement for students,” senior Trey Foose said.
Magnet Coordinator Angela Johanek and English teacher Erin Stubbe started the Benson Ambassador program this school year. A group of students were picked to represent Benson in the community and at school activities.
“[Being an ambassador] gets kids involved by showing students leadership skills they never learned anywhere else,” student ambassador sophomore Mostafa Jack said.
Benson alumni Meredith Davis has returned to Benson a couple of times after graduating last Spring. Davis became incredibly involved with student activities in her time at Benson.
“The more involved [students] get, the more opportunities will come to them,” Davis said. “It may seem stupid to join a lot and be busy all the time, but once senior year comes, they’ll be thankful. . .because colleges do look at those things.”
High school only lasts four years, make the most out of it before it’s too late.
“You have to get involved,” Wagner said. “[School] can’t just be a 7:40 to 3:05 thing otherwise four years of your life is just not memorable.”

Photo courtesy of Laird
Millard South High School junior Emily Laird and sophomore Kinser Lundt dressed as Arthur for their school meme day.
Photo courtesy of Brown.
Homecoming King and Queen Dashawn Brown and Josephine Kantaras in their Hawaiian gear for spirit week.
Photo courtesy of Miyah Rodriguez
Central High School junior Miyah Rodriguez, alumn Vincent Rodriguez, and junior Brianna Collins celebrating Purple Feather Day, Central High School’s honor roll pep rally.