BHS: Spirit Week
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BHS: Spirit Week
My daughter came home very worried about a custom at
Berkeley High called ''Rally Day.'' She says on this day, kids
are supposed to get drunk and high. You have to wear red and
gold or everybody gets mad at you.
I am not too happy about a custom that encourages kids to
get drunk and forces them to wear particular colors (sounds
too much like a gang custom). Have other parents heard about
this? Can the administration put a stop to it?
My daughter is a junior at BHS and has been participating in
rally day every year. The red and yellow are Berkeley's
colors. While there are a few kids that may get high or
drunk, the administration makes it clear that that kind of
behavior will lead to suspension and will not be tolerated.
BHS looks more like a red and yellow Halloween that day than
Rally Day is not a drunken frenzy, nor a Grateful Dead
concert. It is Spirit Day. The students are encouraged to
wear the school colors (red and yellow). There is a rush on
buying all the yellow and red shirts in the local stores.
On the actual day, there are some fairly outrageous outfits,
some facepainting, some crazy dyed hair, pompoms and BHS
shirts. It is not an day for drinking and getting high. I
say have your camera out and send them off for a rare
community builder like this.
Rally Day: there are tons of special days at Berkeley High,
they are intended to bring the kids together with school
spirit, hence the wearing of school colors. I think it's a
great idea in a school that has so many kids, getting behind
your teams, coming together, it's a great feeling also. As
far as drinking, that's always a choice, and reminding your
daughter of that is essential. She can ''say no thanks'' and
hang with kids who don't participate in illegal activities,
not everyone is. Peer pressure can be strong but she's got
to learn how make her own decisions, right? That said, I
think, the drinking and drug use at Berkeley High are really
out of control. The school admin will say they of course
don't condon it, but not much has happened from what I can
see to prevent it. Maybe it's the climate in Berkeley
itself? Parents who feel it's okay for kids to ''experiment''
or who smoke themselves, or are too afraid to confront their
children about their drug and alcohol usage? Who knows,
maybe all of the above. Sorry to get off topic, but it feels
like a powerful issue and you've kind of touched on it in
I like the ''spirit days'' at Berkeley High, it's a time when
the kids can relax and have fun. Backwards day, 80s day,
pajama day, etc. I hope your daughter will have fun with it
and stay away from the booze!
anon parent of a senior
Rally Day is the culmination of Spirit Week (or Homecoming). Red and yellow
are BHS school colors (I guess that could be construed as some sort of a
''gang'') and most kids wear those colors to show pride in their high school.
My daughter is a senior and has never had any problems with Rally Day. She
also has never joined in with the kids who drink or do drugs. There are
always kids around who drink and do drugs, so my advice is to work with
your teenager on not succumbing to peer pressure ANY time, not just on Rally
Day. And yes, the administration does a reasonable job of curtailing
drunken/drugged behavior at these school events.
Rally day is the culmination of Spirit Week at Berkeley
High. Its true that there is a cohort of students that
take the opportunity to behave badly, including getting
high or drunk. While some kids do this, the majority
don't, and the administration does what it can to
discourage it. If your child ''hangs out'' with kids who
commonly use drugs and alcohol they will likely do so on
rally day. If she doesn't, she won't, but she will
probably see kids who are intoxicated.
The day includes an all-school assembly - I think the only
one they have all year given the size of the school, and
each grade puts on a performance. The administration
generally asks for parent volunteers to help chaperone the
Most, but not all, of the students do wear the school
colors of red and gold - its not a gang thing, just school
spirit. Its actually amazing to see the wide variety
of ''costumes'' the kids wear - I like to drive to school
that day to see the enthusiasm.
I would volunteer to be a chaperone if it fit into my
schedule. Look for a note from Janet Huseby asking for
volunteers close to the date (I think its right around
Halloween)and take the opportunity to see for yourself
what goes on. Those requests for volunteers come through
the Berkeley High etree.
I wouldn't worry
I've been a parent volunteer at BHS for several years on
Rally Day and it seems like the most fun day of the year
to me. There is so much energy, and the red/gold outfits
are great! I mostly saw kids who were happy and having a
really good time. Some kids do stupid things, but there is
a big effort to keep things under control. I bet your
daughter will have a good time.
Rally Day, part of Spirit Week, is organized by the school
and kids. It's supposed to be fun. Wearing school colors
is supposed to encourage team spirit, rather than gangs. On
the other hand, the kids are not supposed to be just getting
high - so contacting the school would be appropriate. No
kid would be forced to get high - so this is an appropriate
moment to start talking about peer pressure and ways to
resist it. Perhaps she is hanging out with friends that
don't suit her. This could be a moment to encourage her to
join a club or get an activity that gives her someone else
to hang out with, because there are plenty of kids who are
not using drugs or alcohol at Berkeley High.
I have a sophomore girl. She loved getting dressed up in red
& gold for rally day last year and is already planning this
year's outfit. I am not sure what is so scary about that for
your daughter. But if it's the drinking and drugs at BHS -
plenty of kids are completely clean. There is drinking and
drugs at every high school in the country. Part of learning
to be a person in this world is coming to grips with that. I
know of no one last year among my daughter's friends who got
plastered on rally day, or who felt pressured to do it. I
presume there were some who did. Your daughter will have to
find her own way, her friends, and figure out who she wants
to be and part of that will be her personal decisions about
drinking and drugs. I can only say...keep talking to her
about everything. There are plenty of kids at BHS who are
not stoners (and of course some who are.)
mom of a BHS sophomore
My daughter graduated from BHS in class of 2008. While I am
not naive enough to think that she shared everything with
me, I never heard of a requirement that kids get drunk or
high for rally day. In general my kid was leery and
dismissive of those who felt the need to get drunk or high.
However, rally day was seen as a fun time to see how much
''ketchup and mustard'' (school colors) one could fit into
one's wardrobe. She and her friends designed and made (or
had made) matching t-shirts several years. The group
pictures in the yearbook of each class in red and gold were
fun, as were the pictures the kids took of each other. Some
of these now grace the wall of her college dorm room. I
never heard anything about such school spirit displays being
at all gang-related.
The real issue here is not the merits or lack of same of
''Rally Day,'' but how to deal with peer pressure. Certainly
there is no *requirement* that students dress in school
colors. My two sons never did, and in fact, they viewed
Rally Day with a certain jaundiced bemusement. If allegedly
school-spirited students got ''mad'' at them they did not care
and my sons made the choice to associate with other students
who similarly did not care.
Your daughter does NOT have to dress any particular way, and
certainly the school is not sanctioning students showing up
drunk. You need to reframe this situation in your mind as
one involving how your daughter responds to certain types of
peer pressure. If, in fact, she does not wish to dress in
red and yellow, she should not. If her peers think she is
uncool for making this choice, she might wish to explain to
them why she is not participating in this custom. You can
support her here and perhaps even coach her as to what she
might say to her friends.
As for drinking, there is NO excuse, EVER, for students to
''get drunk.'' If you daughter's friends are claiming that
this is some kind of requirement or norm you might chat with
your daughter regarding her choice of friends. This is
likely not the last time that peer pressure will encourage
your daughter to partake in activities she might rightfully
wish to avoid. It may be time to have a heart-to-heart
about this overall issue.
---No red and yellow in my kids' wardrobe, either
Kids these days!
This morning after serving our time at the downtown Berkeley Y, my
friend and I headed to our cars in the lot just off Milvia. We passed
a group of teen girls all wearing the same red T-shirts with gold
logos and matching shorts, carrying red and gold pompoms. My friend,
who is a Berkeley Type but does not have kids, said "I guess they must
be the Berkeley High cheerleading squad." But then we passed another
group of about 8 boys and girls (who decidedly did NOT look like
cheerleaders) all wearing identical red cowboy hats with gold glitter,
and then another gaggle of kids all wearing the same red and yellow
striped knee socks and matching red hats, and another group in matching
red and yellow Hawaiian shirts, and then we started noticing that EVERY
teenager we passed was all decked out in red and gold. Red and gold
leis around their necks, red and yellow socks, hats, shorts, T-shirts,
shoes, red and gold everything. My friend said, "I guess red and yellow
must be the Berkeley High colors." Every kid we passed was loping
along grinning and wearing red and gold, or in a red and gold huddle
giggling and yacking, no matter what kind of kid they were, and there
are all kinds of kids at BHS. Across Milvia in the big courtyard
of Berkeley High we could see an ocean of red and gold. "WHAT'S GOING
ON!?" said my friend. I said "I think it's Spirit Week!" and then we
had a discussion about how when WE were in high school it was NOT COOL
to have SPIRIT, and NOBODY would ever dress up just because the SCHOOL
said we had to show some SPIRIT. Kids these days! Don't they bring a
smile to your face? -- G.
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