We’ve Got Spirit, Yes We Do…

SpiritIf I am being honest, I wasn’t really surprised when I was cut from my high school’s pom squad entering freshman year.  I have since learned that my dancing should be restricted to wedding receptions and living room dance parties with my kids.  At the time, however, I really wanted to be a part of something.  I wanted to do high kicks alongside my middle school friends as we embarked on the new journey of high school.


Little did I know, I would be voted “Most Spirited” four years later.  While some could argue it was because I could paint a Charger horse on my face with amazing precision, I think it is because I decided that evening in the gym that I would find my niche because I was proud of my school and the people in it.  And, I hadn’t even started classes yet.


Being a part of ImpactTulsa has me frequently reflecting on my own experiences as a student.  We often talk about shared accountability at ImpactTulsa and discuss how to engage the greater community in our work.  Really, shared accountability is easily related to school spirit.  It is having pride in your community and contributing to it, either as a leader, a partner or a well-informed spectator.


I remember when our basketball team won the state championship.  It was a big deal.  I also recall watching my friends sing and dance at the school musical—that Fiddler on the Roof was epic.  I wasn’t center stage, but I watched and encouraged and cheered my heart out.


Whether students are in the spotlight or working behind the scenes, successful students find a role that contributes to the greater success of their school.  And, whether they know it or not, it also has a positive effect on their education. They have spirit.


When students get involved, they interact with peers they may not have otherwise known.  They build relationships with teacher advisors and gain skills and experiences they may not have developed in the classroom alone.  We know that feeling like you are a part of something yields greater success for students.


High school students who participate in extracurricular activities are 1.3 times more likely to enroll in four-year post-secondary institutions. I think this research can be applied to the larger community of Tulsa as well. When we look to our community and school leaders to help students reach their potential, we all serve a role.  Just as there are students singing in the chorus, leading the Spanish Club, or making that crucial game play, we share the accountability of educating our kids and helping them find their niche. And, this town has spirit, yes we do. 


By: Alex Paschal

Community Engagement, ImpactTulsa