Friday All-Day Lights

footballHigh School Report 4

There is often a change in the daily planning at the school because of “activities”. During football season there’s a game against another school every Friday night. The South Texas schools are divided by size. Since our school is tiny, we play against other tiny schools. Sometimes these are very far away.

One game was in Bruni, 150 miles north. Two hours by car. More in the schoolbus, since it can’t go faster than 50 miles per hour. The games begin at 7 p.m. So the students have to leave about 3:30 p.m. Before they leave, the students have to eat. And before they eat, there must be a pep rally. After the pep rally all the not footballing, music playing, cheerleading, or twirling students have to be taken home first in the same schoolbuses, so even the elementary school students have a shortened day because some high school boys play football.

A pep rally is a meeting of students (all of them: elementary, middle and high school) in the gym. The superintendent, the principal, and the coaches give speeches. The cheerleaders (five girls in short skirts) do their little tricks and the football players run into the gym. Then the school alma mater is sung:

On hallowed ground near the Rio Grande
Where Texas stars shine brite (sic)
Our Cougar pride is growing strong
And glorious to the sight.
S0 here’s to you, ….. High,
Our alma mater true.
We pledge in love and harmony
Our loyalty to you.

And then the School Fight Song is shouted:

Hang tough, Cougar team
We are right for the fight today
Cougar pride is what you see
Every Cougar star will shine
We’ll fight, fight, fight
For the blue and the gold
As we cheer for our great varsity
We will fight, play and run
‘Till the battle is won
And bring home a victory!

A competition follows to see who can shout the loudest, the elementary, middle or high school. And then everyone goes home and the boys and the band and the cheerleaders and the twirlers go to the game. Spectators follow later in their cars. There’s a pep rally before almost every game, so almost every Friday from August to December is an “activity” day with a different schedule. The pep rally begins at 2:30, so all the periods last 30 minutes instead of 50. The whole school is thrown off.

Toward the end of the season a homecoming game is played, and then the whole school is a total mess for an entire day. All students who want to can help decorate the one hallway. Other students have “regular” class, so all students want to decorate. The superintendent observed this, and when we had the next staff development day, and a teacher had the audacity to say that the students were unmotivated, he reminded us of that homecoming day, and said “Don’t tell me these students aren’t motivated. I saw motivation!”

The basketball season is not as big a deal, but there are still pep rallies before most games and the games also begin earlier, so the basketball players often have to leave at 13:00 p.m. There are two or three games a week during basketball season. More time not spent on education.

(From a letter in 1996)

The next post in this series is about testing.

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