Javon Darrien ’19
Our school has a storied tradition filled with rites of passage. As a student body, we are proud of this because we think that we are better off for having passed these challenges. That is largely true. We see all the rituals as a way of teaching New Boys what their place at school is -largely one of deference towards upperclassmen- and what values matter most to us as a community. Most of the time these rights of passage, mainly the Pep Rallies, harm nobody, yet we cannot go about pretending that they are harmless. The truth is Pep Rallies and other similar rights of passage can have serious consequences on the psyche of a boy, especially one who is adapting to a brand new environment. That would explain why every year the same controversy arises: Are we too hard on the New Boys? For the most part, we are not too hard on them, yet if our goal is to ingrain into them the values that form the pillars of Woodberry, there is definitely a more effective way.
I’ve never have seen anyone have a serious problem at a Pep Rally. These nights of fun have, as of recently, been softened up a bit, so I don’t think it is necessary for us to further dilute this experience. Were we to soften them up any further, the sense of accomplishment about having survived New Boy year and getting your tie cut would diminish significantly. No matter how much Cheerleaders talk about beating up freshmen for using skateboards, everybody knows that it’s not going to happen. This is because the Pep Rallies don’t have an inherent malicious intent; they are meant to get us pumped up for football games and poke fun at the New Boys. Of course, these are both jobs where the Cheerleaders excel. Another area of their expertise is making sure that no New Boy does something he does not want to do. If our aim were to merely poke fun at New Boys, then Pep Rallies would be a very effective tool, but they are also meant to teach newcomers the way things work around here. At that, they often fail. Ask a New Boy if he learned anything during the Pep Rally and you will find that, at most, he learned that we make a habit of breaking expensive things. This is why we need to come up with an addition to Pep Rallies. Just to be clear, I am not advocating a stop to Pep Rallies, merely an addition to them.
This addition would take the form of a performance which would teach the New Boys the lessons we want them to absorb in the form of a skit or song. While this may be similar to what is already done during orientation, refreshing lessons is never a bad idea. Obviously, the skits would employ the humoristic skills so characteristic of our Cheerleaders. Performers could count among their numbers both Old Boys and New Boys in order to further the sense of inclusion. People would like it because not only would it be funny and informative, but also plain, clean humor. These additions to Pep Rallies will help foster a greater sense of community and also aid in the transition for New Boys. Being a part of the community, not just your clique or friend group, not just your class, has always been one of the pillars of the Woodberry experience. A sense of belonging creates an emotional safety net, which is vital to surviving here.
Pep Rallies are a beloved part of the school culture, despite the controversies they face. They will probably always be controversial, but these performances would be a step in the right direction to calm fears of Pep rallies getting out of hand, while also adding to them. I have always enjoyed Pep Rallies whether I’m being poked at or not.They obviously will always have a place at the school, despite the controversies. This minor addition will help please any of the faculty who may have opposed them in the past, while also adding to the already enjoyable experience that Pep Rallies are. It’s a part of our tradition as a school, and I believe that I can speak for possibly the entire student body when I say I would hate to see it go.
The views expressed in this article are not necessarily the views of the author. Writers are often asked to argue for positions they do not espouse.
The views expressed in this article do not, in any way, represent the views of the editorial board, our faculty adviser, Mr. Guldin, nor the opinion of The Oracle as a whole.