Spirit Kickoff launches celebration of Harker spirit through games and competitions


Jessica Tang

Juniors Karina Chen, Jessica Zhou and Anika Pandey pose with a cardboard cutout of Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci. The cutout traversed through the different areas of the event as various people took photos, posed with it or in some cases even danced with cardboard Fauci.

by Kinnera Mulam, Reporter

A crowd of students conversed while enjoying the snacks and drinks provided by the Harker Spirit Leadership Team (HSLT). They wore radiant smiles as they waited to participate in activities such as the prize wheel, drawing contest and bean bag tossing competition during Spirit Kickoff on Friday.

Over 100 people attended the event, held between the Rothschild Performing Arts Center and the Athletic Center. Director of Student Organizations and Assistant Upper School Activities Coordinator Eric Kallbrier noticed how kickoff visibly uplifted the students’ spirits. He also expressed his gratitude for HSLT’s commendable work of adapting this year’s kickoff event to the COVID-19 protocols. 

“Kickoff was an awesome chaotic bundle of joy and a complete success,” Kallbrier said. “Our kids did a wonderful job being flexible, moving things when they saw that things needed to be moved and just creating a space full of laughter and smiles. You could see the smiles even when people were wearing masks.” 

Attendees had the opportunity to meet with a cardboard cutout of American immunologist and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci crafted by HSLT. The cutout traversed through the different areas of the event as various people took photos, posed with it or in some cases even danced with cardboard Fauci.

One of the games at the event was the watermelon eating contest which Phoebe Castle (10) enjoyed competing against her friend in.

“That was really fun,” Phoebe said. “I basically just shoved my face into the watermelon and just tried to eat as much as possible as quickly as possible.”

Once blindfolded, a pair of students could compete in a drawing contest. The first participant would depict a portion of a scene, and then the second participant would complete the illustration. Fern Biswas (9) rejoiced in their victory against their friend Avayna Glass (9) as they were able to finish the depiction the most accurately.

“I beat Avayna in a drawing contest and that has to be my personal favorite,” Fern said. “Honestly all of this was really fun.”

Students could also compete against each other in a Skittles competition in which the victorious contender was the person who picked up 15 Skittles with their chopsticks first. Other events included spinning a wheel to determine whether a participant would receive a prize or have to complete a simple task such as five pushups. 

Attendees also had the chance to guess the score of the football game later that day for a prize. Additionally, there was a bean bag tossing contest and popcorn, pizza, and drinks provided by HSLT.

Kallbrier valued HSLT’s diligent work this year as they resolved any issues together as a team and led the entire event themselves.

“We started with weekly meetings with our Harker Spirit Leadership Team,” Kallbrier said. “This is a fantastic team this year. They’re super enthusiastic and energized to make Harker a fun and spirited place.”

Since there are COVID-19 restrictions in place, HSLT altered some aspects to lessen the risk of spreading the virus. For instance, multiple hand sanitizer stations were stationed near the front loading zone, and all activities were assembled outside. 

“We just want to make sure that along with having fun, we have a safe and comfortable environment for everybody,” HSLT president Alysa Suleiman (12) said.

Due to the pandemic and remote learning, the prior year’s spirit kickoff activities were conducted over Zoom.

“Last year was really hard because a big part of spirit is being able to be with your friends and do the events together as a class or as a group,” HSLT vice president Sawyer Lai (11) said. “It kinds of bonds you in that sense as a community, but obviously, over Zoom, you’re not with anyone.”

This kickoff gave a glimpse of what spirit events will resemble in the future as HSLT plans to arrange spirit activities for later this year such as ice skating, movie nights, karaoke and the Spring Rally.

This year’s kickoff was the introduction to Harker’s high school spirit for both freshmen and sophomores. Selina Xu (10) enjoyed socializing with students at the event, which reminded her of Fun Fridays from middle school.

“I really liked the environment,” Selina said. “I liked seeing everyone come together and actually be able to have fun and be spirited for the first time in so long because as a tenth grader, I haven’t experienced high school spirit before.”

Additionally, Alysa reminisced over past spirit events she has attended. She expressed the importance of the Harker community uniting to demonstrate school spirit as students create lasting bonds and memories with one another.

“The main point is to just bring the community together,” Alysa said. “I’m so looking forward to having everyone come and just enjoy themselves because that’s what spirit is all about: to really connect with your community, have fun together and really feel at home in both Harker culture and Harker Spirit.”