In addition to showing support for their school, high school students with “school spirit” perform better academically, are more engaged in social and civic matters, and are happier in general than their less-spirited peers.
These findings were part of an online survey of high school students, parents and principals commissioned by Varsity Brands earlier this year. The survey conducted by Harris Poll involved about 1,500 individuals who were asked about school pride, academics, self-esteem and community involvement. The research attempted to discover how school spirit is connected to the way high school students learn, lead and grow.
“School spirit” involves a student’s pride in his or her school, a student’s propensity to get other students to be active in school events, and a student’s plans to return to his or her school for special events after graduation.
From academic achievement to general happiness, the survey indicated a positive relationship to school spirit. Principals overwhelmingly believe it is important that they personally build school spirit at their school (89%) and that higher levels of school spirit is tied to higher student achievement.
Among the ways that principals indicated that they build school spirit were awarding students for academic performance; engaging faculty, administrators and staff; promoting clubs and organizations; holding social events; promoting graduation events and caps and gowns; graduation announcements; and yearbook events.
“When students feel a sense of efficacy, they tend to be more involved, more in tune with the great opportunities which exist on their campus,” noted one female principal who responded to the survey. “If they are not doing well in school, they are not involved in athletics or many of the activities. Additionally, they do not take personal responsibility for not doing well and tend to blame the school, or other factors. They will state ‘they don’t care.’
“Students who are achieving strongly tend to be involved in all aspects of high school. They join clubs, they start clubs, they participate in different events, activities and athletics on site. They get ‘The High School Experience.’”
A student who completed the survey stated that “school spirit means to support your school no matter what and to take pride in your achievements knowing your school has helped you to reach your goals.”
The survey indicated that during the 2013-14 school year, high school students were involved in an average of eight extracurricular activities; and among those individuals involved in activity programs, 51 percent said the reason they were involved is so that they can be involved in their school, and 34 percent said getting involved is a way to show their school spirit.
The concluding statement of the survey noted that “school spirit is a powerful reflection of pride, achievement and determination. It goes hand in hand with positivity and is a benchmark of a school’s holistic success.”
As one principal summarized, school spirit equates to a “sense of community with students, parents, teachers and administrators working together with a common purpose and with activities for all segments of the school population.”