School Spirit’s Back and It’s Our Fault

Seniors cheer at the Jesuit game. (Photo Credit- Michael Valiant)

(COVINGTON, La.)– It was absolute chaos. Students ran in every direction as Hunter Stadium emptied. Fans fled for the gates as sparse droplets of rain dribbled on the home stands. There was also lightning. Come to think of it, it was probably the lightning that caused such a ruckus at the Covington game. The few drops of rain became a torrential downpour minutes later and both teams retreated to the locker rooms to wait out the storm.

The stadium was empty, no band, no parents, no players. Only three seniors remained amid the storm. There was no reason to believe the game would continue, but they stayed anyway. The delay lasted for an hour and a half, and despite invitations to spend the remainder of their Friday night elsewhere, these seniors braved the elements, patiently waiting for the game to restart in the rain.

Seniors Paxton Ballard, Ben Schwing, and Luke Vargas waiting for the game in the rain. (Photo Credit- Dr. Shannon d’Hemecourt)

The skies cleared up over Hunter Stadium and the players took the field. The anticipatory seniors, a three man army, chanted and sung. Students trickled back into the stadium. Soon, the student section fence was packed once more with the rowdy, zealous fans it is so famous for. The drum line drove back as fast as they could, cheerleaders went back to cheering, and the dance team began to dance. It was as if the game had never been delayed in the first place. A heavy sense of school pride hung in the air that extraordinary Friday evening. It was nothing short of miraculous: a night that will live on in our memories for years to come.

Students storm the field after beating arch-rivals Jesuit. (Photo Credit- Michael Valiant)

This year is proving to be an incredibly special one for St. Paul’s School. The students have never displayed so much spirit and passion in recent memory.
School spirit has also steadily built up every year. Each class has become more and more excited about the school. This year, with the class of 2020 and all the classes following, we see the full manifestation of this culture of passion and love for St. Paul’s.

This school pride and renewed school culture showed forth at the homecoming pep rally. As per tradition, St. Paul’s held its annual faculty vs. seniors volleyball game. Seniors piled on the points and the game started to lose its spectacle. The crowd lost its thunder until something quite remarkable occurred. Senior Paxton Ballard fired a scorching serve to the faculty team, specifically at Robert Heap. Heap took a good two-handed swipe at the ball and redirected the ball into the air. Rather than digging the ball back into play, Heap’s strike thrust the ball backward and into the basketball goal behind him. The crowd went ballistic as students flew from their seats. The referee, Victor Morlas, jumped into Heap’s triumphant arms amidst the riotous scene. “In my 41 years of teaching, I had never been to a pep rally that good,” said Victor Morlas.

It was beautiful. This is the silly, ironic humor that exemplifies the St. Paul’s School culture. This is what sets us apart. This is what makes this school so special, perhaps the ultimate embodiment of what defines our brotherhood and why I love going to St. Paul’s.

Somehow, though, the pep rally got better. SSA’s student body walked to St. Paul’s to take part in the homecoming festivities. The resurrection of pep rallies with SSA has played a huge role in the return of school spirit. When the girls first came last year, the idea was a bit of a flop. The SSA students were in an unfamiliar gym filled with nearly a thousand boys; no one can blame them for feeling awkward about the whole thing. This year was different, though. The girls charged into the gym and within minutes the place was packed. There were no awkward silences, not a single dull moment. The gym exploded with noise, a deafening sound never heard there before.

The homecoming pep rally was a turning point for St. Paul’s, and everyone could feel it. There was palpable sense of change in the air, and students weren’t the only ones who noticed it: teachers did, too. “When I first came here, spirit was really big. As the years went on, though, there was a decrease in spirit,” said senior civics teacher, Paul Scoriels. Pep at St. Paul’s went on decline. Students lost the fire that they once had when teachers like Scoriels first started at St. Paul’s. Perhaps nobody knows this better than alumnus teacher Kevin Moore. “When I was a student here, people definitely had a lot of spirit, but over the years you could tell it was going down. This year, especially after that pep rally, school spirit’s back,” said Moore.

No one was more moved by the growth of school spirit than student body President Paxton Ballard and myself, the Vice President. This is our fifth year on student council, and it has been our job for the past few years to bring school spirit back to St. Paul’s. I would be a liar if I didn’t admit that there were some hopeless moments for us. There were times when it looked like we would never return the school to the old “loud and proud” days of years past.

From left to right: Student Council President Paxton Ballard, Vice President Luke Vargas, Treasurer Ben Schwing. (Photo Credit: Dr. Shannon d’Hemecourt)

Despite those hopeless moments, though, this year has proven to be the culmination of four years of hard work, trial, much error, some humiliating failures, and an eternal spirit of youthful idealism that has been passed down to us by our predecessors. At that homecoming pep rally, Paxton and I looked at one another and knew that we had succeeded.

I have never felt more proud to go to this school. Never before has it been more clear to me that we have something very special here at St. Paul’s that no other high school can replicate. Even when the rains of apathy and indifference seem to fall and phase out our tradition of spirit, the tempest clears and with it comes the light of a joy and love for St. Paul’s. This year marks the beginning of a new chapter in St. Paul’s history. This is a renaissance of school culture. School spirit is back and it’s our fault.


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