Students, staff conflicted over proposed consequences to Spirit Week

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Students from Palo Alto High School rush across the track and return to their side of the field after raiding the Gunn High School bleachers. Some students, including junior Ava Iribarren, are upset with the proposed scale backs to Spirit Week that Principal Brent Kline may officially announce tomorrow, including the potential cancellation of the Homecoming Dance and reduced number of rallies. “I don’t think it is fair to punish the entire student body for a couple of people’s decisions which led to everyone else following,” Iribarren said. “I wasn’t there, and a lot of my friends weren’t there, and I don’t think it is fair to punish everyone and even just won’t be fair to punish the people who were at the game.” (Photo: Annelise Balentine)

Anna Feng and Leena Hussein

Students from Palo Alto High School rush across the track and return to their side of the field after raiding the Gunn High School bleachers. Some students, including junior Ava Iribarren, are upset with the proposed scale backs to Spirit Week that Principal Brent Kline may officially announce tomorrow, including the potential cancellation of the Homecoming Dance and reduced number of rallies. “I don’t think it is fair to punish the entire student body for a couple of people’s decisions which led to everyone else following,” Iribarren said. “I wasn’t there, and a lot of my friends weren’t there, and I don’t think it is fair to punish everyone and even just won’t be fair to punish the people who were at the game.”

Editor’s note: Some students wished to remain anonymous due to concerns of backlash from peers. The Paly Voice also blurred faces in the photo in order to keep students’ identities private.

Students and staff at Palo Alto High School are expressing mixed feelings regarding potential Spirit Week consequences stemming from the chaos created by last Friday’s football game and administration’s worries about the potential resurgence of egg fights

The Paly vs. Gunn High School football game last Friday resulted in a 41-0 win for Paly, but the game was shut down early by admin after Paly students raided the Gunn bleachers, prompting a potential reaction from administrators, which Principal Brent Kline is set to address tomorrow in a schoolwide announcement on InFocus.

According to freshman Sonya Kuzmicheva, punishing the student body by scaling back Spirit Week is unfair to students who did not attend the Paly vs. Gunn football game last Friday.

“Everyone might get punished for something many didn’t do,” Kuzmicheva said. “If he [Kline] wants to punish people, maybe punish people who were just involved or at least don’t make such a big punishment and do something that won’t affect everyone because homecoming and Spirit Week is a big thing, especially for freshmen and seniors.” 

A senior who wished to remain anonymous said the bleacher raid by Paly students was not out of poor intentions.

I would be upset if there were Spirit Week cutbacks because I considered the rushing of the Gunn stands to be a showing of spirit rather than violence or bad intentions,” the senior said. “There could be some punishments but none to the degree that they are considering.”

Spirit Week, a concept and tradition that began at Paly in 1927, is viewed by many students, including senior Kylie Tzeng as an event that brings Paly together. 

Spirit Week is the one week a year where most, if not all, of Paly students, actually enjoy being on campus and feel a sense of camaraderie,” Tzeng said. “By potentially changing Spirit Week and reducing what it used to be, it takes away much of the excitement and joys of Spirit Week at Paly.”

A senior varsity football player who wished to remain anonymous said students’ actions from Friday night’s game should not warrant severe punishments but should also not be ignored.

“They [Paly students] took away a lot of reps from guys [players] who work really hard and don’t always get the chance to show that hard work off in games,” the senior football player said. “It did ruin the end of our game but at the same time no harm was caused, and it was all in good spirit. I think it should not be something that is brushed to the side but also not something that causes serious consequences to students.”

Some students, like an anonymous senior, believe a certain level of consequence would be beneficial for the future.

“It’s obvious that if students chose to participate in that type of behavior during a game, there would be punishments,” the senior said. “Sometimes the only way for students to take admin and rules seriously is to actually bear the weight of some consequences. I don’t think in retrospect it [the bleacher raid] was a huge deal, but if nothing happens then people will think that they can do anything at any time, so there has to be a line for everyone.”

According to Paly Economics teacher Grant Blackburn, students must understand the weight of their actions in order to create a better community at Paly.

“They [admin] have to demonstrate that, that kind of thing [bleacher raids] can’t happen,” Blackburn said.

Blackburn said it is up to Paly staff to help guide students’ behavior.

“The whole point of your [teens’ lives] life at this point is to figure out why,” Blackburn said. “Why you go into schools. Why you do a bunch of stuff, you’re trying to figure out who you are in this world. What you can do, what you can’t do, what you get away with what you can write. That’s what it means to be a teenager. We [teachers and admin] have to respond in a way hopefully that shows you what the appropriate things are, and if we don’t do that, then we’re failing at our jobs. ”

According to freshman Sofia Singer, addressing student misbehavior from the football game is challenging but preventing students from participating in many of the Spirit Week traditions central to Paly is not right. 

“I personally think that it’s really complicated, there are a lot of different factors,” Singer said. “I know he [Kline] is probably doing the best job he can, but I still think that punishing people and canceling important school events that are really important to the student body, traditions especially, is not the right move.”

This sentiment is echoed by an anonymous junior who said scaling back Spirit Week for all students is not warranted, but students and admin should strive for a solution that addresses all concerns.

“I didn’t even go to the football game and all these things [consequences] are being put on innocent people and that’s not okay, but I do understand that some reform has to be made to address bad behaviors and compromises have to be made,” the junior said.