Spirit Week brings community together for on-campus excitement

by Michelle Liu, Winged Post Design Editor


Head of School Brian Yager dropped into the water of a dunk tank as upper school seniors, gathered in front of Manzanita Hall with their masked faces beaming under the sunlight, cheered amidst upbeat pop songs playing in the background. The next day, juniors succeeded in dunking their class dean Christopher Hushman. Sophomores dunked their class dean Karl Kuehn, and, finally, freshmen sent class dean Jeffrey Draper into the water on the last day of Spirit Week. 

During the week of April 19, upper school students participated in their first in-person Spirit Week in more than a year. Students from each class arrived on campus for their designated class Spirit Day, enjoying activities planned by their Class Council, Student Activities Board and Harker Spirit Leadership Team.

Alysa Suleiman

Monday, April 19 – Senior Spirit Day  

To kick off Spirit Week, the seniors headed to Davis Field for a spirit rally filled with advisory bonding time and competitions. Advisories competed in trying their hand at yoga poses and hula hooping, and giant Jenga, ping pong and ultimate frisbee sat waiting on the field for students to enjoy. 

During lunch, the Harker Spirit Leadership Team (HSLT) organized a variety of activities for each of the four classes to compete in. Chalk art, sudoku, a balloon pop game and rubix-cubing all helped students earn spirit points for their class. A dunk tank also sat waiting outside of Main building for each class during lunchtime — seniors showcased their throwing skills, sending Head of School Brian Yager into the tank after hitting the center of the target stand with a ball.

“I get really energized by seeing people,” President of HSLT Lisa Barooah (12) said. “We could have planned a basic spirit week and it would still have been really fun — all the energy came from everyone around me.”  

After splishes, splashes and smiles from the dunk tank, seniors gathered on Davis Field again after school for a spirit rally. Four senior teams competed in capture the flag and a relay race, with socializing galore afterward all across the field. Games included “What time is it, Mr. Fox?,” sports and an artistic station for students to relax at Shah Patio. Excitement was palpable as friends chatted to each other while kicking a soccer ball or throwing frisbees. 

“I saw a lot of people and got to talk to a lot of people that I wouldn’t have talked to over quarantine, so it was really nice catching up with all of them,” Emma Dionne (12) said. 

The detailed orchestration of activities would not have been possible without the Student Activities Board (SAB), Student Council, and HSLT; their hours of planning helped everyone, students and faculty alike, enjoy their first spirited day back on campus as a class. Eric Kallbrier, Assistant Activities Director and Director of Student Organizations, enjoyed helping oversee spirit day activities and seeing the community in person again. 

“With the student activities, it just looked like everyone was having such a good time and smiling and talking to each other,” Kallbrier said. “We’ve been away for so long that it’s just so fun to have everyone back again.”

Tuesday, April 20 – Junior Spirit Day

At the start of Junior spirit day, students from the Class of 2022 headed to Davis Field for the first activity of the day, an exciting ultimate frisbee match between the juniors and their advisors. As the crowd watched, the students slowly edged out the advisors to win a victory for the class. However, the most noticeable energy in the air came from the smiles and laughter of friends and classmates who were seeing each other for the first time in more than a year. 

“One of the largest reasons for having this is to remind ourselves that the light at the end of the tunnel is almost here, and to give a cheerful mood in a way that only Spirit can do,” SAB representative Spencer Cha (11) said. 

At lunch, the juniors succeeded in sending their class dean, Christopher Hurshman, into the dunk tank multiple times with their sharp throws. Students also enjoyed the same HSLT-organized activities as the seniors, completing them in the hopes of winning spirit points for the class.  

The classes themselves also marked a welcome change from Zoom learning for many students — with many teachers opting for hybrid learning, students had the opportunity to see their teachers, and classmates, together in a classroom for the first time. 

“I’m not gonna lie, I loved being in my classes,” Junior Council Officer Yejin Song (11) said.  “Those were the best part for me. All my classes were in-person, actually, and in all of them more people came than expected. I felt like that was such a good sign, because it means people are ready and excited to be back.” 

In the afternoon, students milled around Davis Field choosing their own activities, with options like ping pong, charades and a relay race to win candy as prizes. Efforts of the Junior SAB, Class Council, and HSLT paid off as the students left campus buzzing with excitement and new memories from their first in-person spirit day of the school year. 

“I’m really excited that it went a lot better than I expected, because, especially over Zoom, it’s hard to gauge how invested people are in doing fun activities together as a grade,” SAB representative Irene Yuan (11) said. “I hope this is the beginning of being able to do fun things and hang out in person, COVID-19 safe of course.” 

Wednesday, April 21 – Sophomore Spirit Day

On Wednesday, the Sophomore spirit day began with a rock paper scissors tournament during the morning spirit block. Next, sophomore SAB and Class Council decided to organize an innovative challenge auction on Davis Field, where advisories competed in completing pushups, reciting digits of pi or jumping rope. 

“I really enjoyed the morning challenge auction; it involved the whole class together,” SAB representative Sara Wan (10) said. “I really want to have more activities like that where we talk with the whole entire class.” 

During lunchtime, the sophomores succeeded in dunking their Class Dean, Karl Kuehn, into the tank in front of Main building. As the school day wound to a close, students headed to Davis Field for charades, ping pong, and an impromptu soccer shootout. 

The events required extensive planning from the sophomore student leaders. SAB, Sophomore Class Council and HSLT all enjoyed planning for this special day with their class. 

“As we got closer and closer to spirit week, I think we changed each of our activities three or four times,” SAB representative Zubin Khera (10) said. “So it was hard, but the collaboration process was still lots of fun.” 

Even through the excitement of old friends and classmates reuniting for the first time, Harker’s upper school campus continued to require social distancing and masking, and the upper school also implemented other safety measures, including one-way directional flow in buildings and hand-washing stations around campus.

“We planned for spirit day by working with the admin and our student leaders, keeping of course the safety of students and faculty in mind,” Sophomore Class Dean Karl Kuehn said.

Spirit Days were just the first step towards in-person hybrid learning, and Harker has taken steps to allow for a smooth, safe transition. Highly anticipated from as early as last summer, the in-person experience was facilitated according to COVID-19 guidelines. 

“We’ve been so proactive since the spring that we were able to get ahead on things like air conditioning and air filters,” Jennifer Gargano, Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs, said. “I’m not going to say it was easy to get all those things ready. But they have been things that we had planned since the summer, and we just were able to keep up with the changing guidelines.”

Thursday, April 22 – Freshman Spirit Day

On Thursday, Harker’s freshman class arrived excitedly on campus for their Spirit Day, marking one of the first times that these students had set foot together at the upper school. In the morning, the Freshman council performed a skit on the field with the format of a Harker-style “Bachelor”-themed dating show. The class finished the activity with donuts — packaged ahead of time in individual bags for precautionary purposes — distributed to each student.

“I really liked the skit in the morning. It was really funny. I think that no one was really expecting it, so it was more enjoyable in that way too,” Laurel Davies (9) said. “Having so many people on campus kind of reminds you of what it’s going to be like when we actually go back to 100% in person. Seeing everyone is also really cool, because no one looks how you expected.” 

At lunch, students enjoyed HSLT activities and dunked Freshman Class Dean Jeffrey Draper into the tank. Whether it was meeting old friends or new classmates, the freshmen enjoyed an exciting time to socialize and hang out together. 

“Although everybody wore masks, you could just kind of tell that they were smiling and having a good time,” SAB representative Meishin Yen (9) said.

After school, the freshmen were ready for an advisory trivia game during the afternoon spirit period. Gathering on the field, students enjoyed an intense trivia competition, ending with refreshing Otter Pops to cool down from the heat. Although Spirit Day came to a close at 3:30 p.m., the energy from seeing friends, classmates, teachers and faculty in person lingered, growing into excitement for more in-person hybrid learning days. 

“Just, in general, being able to see people on a daily basis is amazing,” Anish Jain (9) said. “On Zoom we can still talk to each other, but the in-person interaction is just different.” 

Spirit Week marked an exciting transition to on-campus hybrid learning, and students left with treasured new memories made with their class. Although the planning process for the events was not easy, it all paid off after seeing the smiling (masked) faces of students, teachers and faculty together. 

“Our faculty, from the adult perspective, gets their energy from the students,” Gargano said. “This year has been a hard year for everybody students and faculty alike. And when the faculty and other adults get to see the positive effect, it makes all that hard work worth it.”

Additional reporting by Alysa Suleiman, Sabrina Zhu and Sydney Ling.