Roughly twice a year, high schools sponsor a Spirit Week, usually once during football season for Homecoming and once during basketball season for Courtwarming. During these Spirit Weeks, all kinds of fun activities are held: Pep Rallies, contests… My school even promoted a fundraiser by playing an annoying song during every passing period until they raised enough money to “Stop the Bop”. It was hilarious and extremely successful. One of the most traditional ways teens celebrate is by having Dress-Up Days.
Kids come up with some extremely creative ideas for dress-up days: Salad Dressing Day (One student wore a tie-dyed toga and crown of leaves and said he was “Zesty Italian”!), Twin Day (One year I “twinned” with a student who had hair almost identical to mine, and we were mistaken for one another—from the back—all day.), or Sports Team Day (where kids love boasting of their favorite teams (be them collegiate or professional); however, some choices of themes can venture into the offensive arena.
Last year, a Kansas City area high school chose to sponsor a “Red-Neck Day”. That is getting into some dangerous territory for multiple reasons. #1. Some teenagers can take the theme of the day and stay within appropriate limits (that is, if you think the theme itself is appropriate); however, #2. Chances are huge that some teens will take the theme way too far, sporting racist paraphernalia or making inappropriate comments throughout the day. #3. Whether or not students remain “appropriate,” I cannot imagine trying to teach, for instance, To Kill a Mockingbird, while the school is sponsoring a Red-Neck Day. It goes against everything the novel stands for and every concept I would be trying to teach. This divisive attempt at humor seems to be along the same lines as sponsoring a Nerd Day or a Disabled Day… It is just offensive.
Let me clarify, I do not have anything against cowboys and cowgirls. I’m from Oklahoma, and even here in Kansas and Missouri, for some students, farming is a way of life. It is a difficult, hard life to endure, and for a suburban high school, made up of mostly upper-to-middle-class students, to mock that lifestyle in such a derogatory and hateful way is shameful. I love the idea of creativity and devising ideas that are innovative and new, but that should not come at the expense of bowing down to negative stereotypes. Instead, Spirit Days should celebrate students’ creativity and inspire unity among the student body.