School spirit: a concept that carries many different meanings for students and schools, whether it be elementary, middle, high school or even college.
Although some go “all out,” sporting painted faces and spirited colors at various events, others prefer to express their school pride in other ways, such as playing on a sports team or representing the school in a club or organization.
But what signifies a true representation and embodiment of school spirit on the Keene State College campus?
In the 1950s, Keene State College students seemed to have concerns about the concept, and one (or many, as it is unclear) chose to express it in The Monadnock, the former name for The Equinox.
In the Oct. 3, 1950 edition of The Monadnock, an article without a byline read the following:
“The mad hysteria so often witnessed in football stadium– is this spirit? The cheering that welds frenzied masses into one great restless body– can this be spirit? No, this alone is not spirit, though it may be a visible consummation of it. The roots of true school spirit grow deeper than the larynx. Spirit, when present, manifests itself visibly on many occasions, not only at athletic contests, but at concerts, assemblies, dances– all group activities of the college.”
Further in the writing, the individual expressed that at the time, attendance at college functions was poor, and excitement and pride was moreso directed toward smaller groups within Keene Teachers College (KTC), but not at the college as a whole.
If forces were combined, “each organization could serve as a funnel– individuals pouring in their efforts and these efforts being directed by the organization toward a campus-wide goal–unity.”
With the goal of bringing more school spirit to the forefront of KTC students’ minds, the writer recognized that the flick of a switch could not bring about such a drastic change in attitude and campus morale. The idea, however, involved creating an on-campus group dedicated to “instill a love of school in its students.”
About one year later, in the Oct 2, 1951 edition of The Monadnock, nothing much seemed to have changed.
Again, the writer, this time named F. L. S., Jr., described school spirit as “sinking,” even with the addition of 120 students in the first-year class that year.
“We must have some excellent potential teachers in the upperclass ranks for it didn’t take them too long to orient the freshman on how to stay away from college functions and show a general lack of interest,” he stated. Activity, pep, life, dash, vivacity and energy, all words associated with spirit, were talked about and discussed, “but certainly not displayed.”
It seems as though the writer of this article was truly conflicted in discovering how to revive the lost spirit of the college.
The college as a whole, at the time, created more Friday afternoon classes in effort to keep students on campus for part of the weekend, but, as he stated, it didn’t help the cause.
“Perhaps the next logical step is Saturday morning classes,” he stated. “As long as there is a mass exodus every Friday afternoon, there can be little interest created in campus activities.”
In order to assure spirit, F. L. S., Jr. stated, he said the solution is up to the students themselves.
A mediocre college life? It’s yours, he said. A rich college life? That, also, can be yours, he explained.
“It’s your decision. Make sure you make the right one.”
Today, in 2017, Keene State College has made strides in order to improve school spirit across campus.
One on-campus organization titled Owl Nation makes it their priority to encourage and portray positive school spirit at all campus-related events.
The purpose of Owl Nation states: Owl Nation is a student-run organization with a purpose of promoting interest in school spirit and pride for Keene State College, providing fellowship among students and encouraging attendance at all sporting events.
Although the creation and establishment of Owl Nation may not have “solved” the school spirit concerns in the 1950s, it has the potential to revive that spirit in some ways in the present.
Jessica Ricard can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org