Opinion: Leave pep in the past

Among rumors that Pep Rallies may return to McHenry West, students must be reminded of the reason they’re here: to learn.


Dane Erbach

Pep rallies, now a thing of the past at McHenry West, used to give students the opportunity to sit on their phones, or in some cases, leave early. This distracts students from the true reason they’re here: their education.

Joe Ndu, Contributing Writer

Students drag themselves out of their seats as the bell rings. The halls are crowded with people making their way to the main gym, some anxious, and some unexcited, dreading the same tired routine yet again. As they call each floor on the announcements, the seats fill in gradually and the air is hot and stuffy. Everything is in place, but the crowd doesn’t quiet down. The attempts to engage them are ignored and the event drags on with limited enthusiasm. Another rally and more time that could be spent somewhere else, is wasted. 

The vast majority of students felt that pep rallies were a waste of their time and that it could be better spent on other things, such as doing homework. For this reason, the school was right to get rid of them in 2018. However, the rumors that they might be returning can be troubling to some. When asked about why the school got rid of pep rallies, principal of MCHS West, Marsha Potthoff, explained that “We decided to put assemblies on hold after students started getting up to leave the assemblies 10-15 minutes before the bell rang.  Most students were sitting passively on their phones and leaving early which indicated to us that they did not find them valuable.” It was sights like this that the school board couldn’t deny. This was clearly the product of an event that failed to grasp students’ attention.

This same sentiment seems to be echoed by many others. Shea Dobson, a writer for Manual Redeye argues that pep rallies should not be a mandatory thing. “Students who don’t enjoy pep rallies often find themselves alienated when they are forced to surround themselves with those who do. This generally lowers school spirit, accomplishing the polar opposite of the pep rallies’ intended goal. Many skip out on the rallies due to this low student morale.” This is also a sentiment shared among many at MCHS. Many kids in the past who dreaded going to pep rallies would take the opportunity to leave early just to avoid them because they saw them as a waste of time. 

Gaby Garcia of The Red Ledger shares this idea. “Pep rallies are just like other events the school offers such as football games, dances and fundraising events. But two things separate pep rallies from these events- pep rallies occur during school hours and are mandatory.” She goes further, saying that “Instead of holding these events, we should put more focus on the football games. If you want your pep, take it to the student section where you are welcomed with open arms. Save school hours for what students are here for- education.” This suggestion isn’t very far off, especially when considering events outside of pep rallies like football games are often very successful in stirring school spirit and entertaining people at MCHS.

Some however, might say that pep rallies are a positive thing for the students, such as Lily Hager who also writes for The Red Ledger. “It’s not about the activities. The school doesn’t owe it to you to entertain you. It’s a gift to all of us that we are allowed to leave class just to hear about our peers’ accomplishments and cheer them on as they compete in silly games. Pep rallies are the only time I can geek out and cheer on the bowling team. It’s the only time the school can dedicate a few focused minutes to the cheerleaders. Pep rallies are about supporting each other, and if I can get pulled out of class to cheer on some friends, I’m doing it.” This argument raises some problems though. She asserts that students should be happy to have these rallies. However, if the students find the rallies unenjoyable, then they should not be forced to watch. Not everyone finds the “silly games” all that entertaining. She places too much importance on pep rallies as though there aren’t other ways of raising school spirit like actual events and sports games. 

Pep rallies are best left in the past because they have made for a largely underwhelming experience for many students. The Barrel Battle is an excellent solution that the school came up with that is both fun and engaging. The rumors that the rallies might be returning to McHenry West should stay just that – rumors, and the school should be held to task and focus on the future.