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SGA students at BHS push for more school spirit

Published on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020

 homecoming court girls participating in 2020 homecoming parade

Provided photo/Girls in Homecoming Court participating in the 2020 BHS Homecoming Parade.

Berkeley High’s homecoming parade looked a little different back in October.

Homecoming typically consists of a dance, a festival, a lot of décor in the hallways, and more items in the parade that had to be curtailed because of the pandemic, but students are hopeful things will turn around in spring, and in the meantime they are trying to let the community know they’re still “Stag strong”.

Berkeley High’s Student Government Association (SGA) operates similar to a student council, just with an emphasis on school spirit. The school’s SGA program has about 100 students involved, and it is part of a national SGA organization. Their advisor is social studies teacher Jennifer Schlee.

 “We’re still Stags forever – that’s the message that we’re trying to get out,” Schlee said.

Baylee Tatara, President of the Senior Class, said decorating the hallways was a big thing SGA students were not able to take on.

“Every year we get to decorate the hallways but this year we weren’t allowed to,” she said.

There is a theme every year for Homecoming, and this year it circled around ecosystems, so maybe this year one of the hallways would have been transformed into a jungle, and another into an ocean, and so forth.

“They (the decorations) literally go from floor to ceiling, from one end of the hallway to the other. They spend hours on it, and it’s beautiful every year,” Schlee said.

However, undeterred, SGA students have put their energy into other aspects of school spirit – such as just getting students more involved at school.

Katherine Jones, 12th grade Student Body Vice President, said when the freshman started school they did not get to participate in the Stag Stampede, which is when they tour the campus, so they’re trying to figure out ways to get the ninth-graders involved in school.

Alex Lopez, Freshman Class President, had been exciting about coming to school and get involved in the hallway decorating.

“It was kind of disappointing that we didn’t get to do that this year,” he said.

Something the school has done this semester is sell t-shirts online with a local company for each class, as an attempt to unite the students. Individual classes come up with the designs for the t-shirts, and SGA students promote the t-shirts on social media.  

“We don’t dictate what they put on it – it’s their choice,” Schlee said, adding, “We’re hoping that that’s a way for kids to kind of ‘be with us’, without being with us.”

One thing the school can still do is show their school spirit by dressing the part. Blended distance learning (BDL) students are encouraged to share photos of themselves donning the shirts, and all students are encouraged to tag the school social handles whenever they post their Stag swag.

The school has also had themed dress-up days for students to participate in. Schlee said she has seen a lot of teachers get involved in the dress-up days as well.

“We’ve had a good number of kids do it this year,” Jones said.

Tatara said she would like to see more participation.

“There’s a lot of people who just don’t put any effort into caring, I would say…that’s always been a little bit of an issue with our classes,” she said, adding, “We need to get more blended students involved than we’ve had.”

Schlee said SGA’s focus this year is to promote positivity and unity – “and make the kids at home feel like they’re still just as much a Stag now as they were when they were in the building.”

“It is kind of becoming a creative challenge,” she said.

Jones said there are events that BDL students have attended as well – like the school’s Senior Sunrise event, which took place off site.

“It was nice to seeing them and...(seeing) that they care; they want to have a good senior year,” she said, adding, “And we’re planning to have a Sunset on the last day of school.”

The Homecoming Parade showcased the girls in Homecoming Court, and Jones said they still had residents and business owners turn out along the street to show their support.

“Living in a small town is nice because they (the residents) are very supportive with everything,” Jones said.

Twelfth-grade SGA member Wendy Zhang said she enjoyed watching the court members participate in the parade.

“I think it went well,” she said.

A lot of students came out to watch the Homecoming game as well.

“I think the kids are seizing any opportunity to attend when we have stuff that they can come to,” Schlee said.

Tatara said she thinks the pandemic actually brought the SGA officers closer together.

“We’ve been trying to find ways to include everybody, and use our social media (accounts) to reach the students who aren’t coming to school because we can’t talk to them in person,” she said.

Abigail Baggott, Junior Class Vice President, said SGA is trying to focus on what it can do as opposed to what it cannot do.

Baggott said it was important to look at the positives – “especially in times like now.”

“We’ve definitely had more communication with officers in classes and it’s brought us together to realize: we need each other,” she said.

Schlee said she thinks the officers have really stepped up to promote inclusion at the school.

“We’re trying to focus on the entire community instead of just the school,” Schlee said. “We kind of had to shift to make sure…that they know we are still here, we are Stags forever.”

Monica Kreber