The Hatters' Herald

Doubtful pep rallies will ever stage comeback

Admin says school just too big

A+photo+of+the+DHS+pep+rally+in+1997.+
A photo of the DHS pep rally in 1997.

A photo of the DHS pep rally in 1997.

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A photo of the DHS pep rally in 1997.

Ava Olivera and Sabine Dempster

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During the fall — as various videos of other schools’ assemblies and pep rallies go viral — the question arises, “Why doesn’t DHS have a pep rally of its own?”

Principal Dan Donovan says that there hasn’t been a pep rally at DHS since the mid 90’s, well before he was even teaching here at DHS.

The reason pep rallies ceased to exist here is because “they became out of control,” Donovan said. “Rumor has it kids would throw things on the field; but I have no proof of that.”

Former football coach and current history teacher Richard Holmes weighed in on the issue and talked about his experience with pep rallies — as he was a teacher at DHS during the era of pep rallies. Holmes says he’s not a fan of pep rallies and never has been. He says that it’s merely, “an opportunity for students to get stupid.”

Holmes said many students did not care about the reason behind the pep rallies — to raise school spirit — and instead took them as an excuse to leave school. There would be “students leaving the campus; they would say, ‘I’m not going to this’ and take off,” Holmes remembers.

Junior Ben Pereira said, “Many students don’t care about school spirit, and because of that the success [of pep rallies] is definitely questionable. I don’t believe we can change the minds of non-spirited students either.”

So even though Pereira stands behind the idea of a pep rally, and said “it would make the spirit of the school much more lively,” he understands the challenges that come with being a large school with so many students, and differing opinions.

Holmes also spoke of an incident where a pep rally was held and a student — who was set to start as the school football team’s defensive tackle in the FCIAC championship game — “got fired up and crazy with the pep rally and, in the process, the young man broke his ankle.”

Although the pep rallies have stopped after the chaos of the 90’s, why does that limit DHS from reinstating a pep rally now, more than 20 years later? The argument now holds that the DHS student population is simply too big to hold a pep rally.

Donovan said, “The issue we have is space; trying to put more than 3,000 kids with 300 and something staff members — well, our bleachers I don’t even think can hold that much. To get all of our kids in one spot is a difficult thing.”

Holmes agreed with Donovan saying, “If we were a smaller school, and more people really cared about the success or failure of the teams, then I’d have to say they would be effective.”

Donavan is also worried about inclusivity. While pep rallies are traditionally to be centered on athletics, he says that DHS has too much to offer to just focus on the sports department. He pushed for the idea that “there would have to be a theme the entire school could get behind,” for pep rallies to be a viable option for the school.

Holmes adds that the sports centralization is also detrimental to the teams themselves. “As a coach, I never liked them because you start thinking about the wrong things. You’re not preparing for the game, you’re thinking about the stupid stuff that goes on.”

Donovan mentioned the school a few years back held a schoolwide assembly during advisory. Bob Rossi, principal then, had an assembly on the football field during advisory in which the school celebrated the “Kick for Nick” campaign in which soccer balls were collected and sent to Iraq. It went well, but it took a lot of planning and security.

Some students view that assemblies and pep rallies are an enjoyable way to escape the stress of studies and unite the school as a community.

“Pep rallies allow everyone in each grade to be excited about their school. Especially for seniors, it could be the last moment to appreciate your high school career,” said senior Olivia Alessandro.

Senior Claudia Harris added, “They are imperative to make school fun and to make people look forward to come to school.”

So, how can students contribute to making a pep rally a reality in the future? Donovan recommends that eager students research a topic that is representative of all that the diverse population of the school has to offer.

Donovan stands by the inclusion of all students and said the way to get a pep rally back at DHS is that, “It has to be a combination of everything.”

 

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Danbury High School     43 Clapboard Ridge Road Danbury, CT 06811     (203) 797-4800
Doubtful pep rallies will ever stage comeback