Behind the scenes of ‘Spirit Week Done Fair’

SGA’s efforts to level the playing field gave new hope to underclassmen—and enraged some seniors


Nina Lampert '22

Seniors get hyped for Capture the Flag against the juniors.

Every year, Ransom Everglades hosts a Spirit Week for the student body to increase school spirit and give students some much-needed downtime. This year was no exception: between October 24 and 29, the four Upper School grades dressed up, played soccer, battled robots, lip synced, and much more, all in a mood of friendly competition and inter-grade connection. The air was filled with levity and excitement, providing a welcome respite from the usual stress of academics.
But there was one significant difference. Spirit Week competitions used to promise sure victory for the seniors; this year, under the direction of Student Body President Noah Zaldivar ’22, the Student Government Association (SGA) worked to make Spirit Week ‘fair,’ giving every grade an equal chance to win. Zaldivar explained his rationale. “I was an underclassman. I have been robbed before of victories that should have been ours. It sucks. It sucks to lose. It sucks to lose for no reason especially. So, I wanted to make it fair because I thought it would make more people engaged if there was a chance that the seniors could lose.”
With seniors riled up and underclassmen finally receiving a sliver of hope, how did RE’s 2021 Spirit Week turn out?
Spirit Week truly began in early September, when SGA convened to start discussing the event in their hourly Friday meetings. They first tackled the theme, looking for ways to make it as broadly appealing as possible. “One thing we wanted to make sure we did with the theme of Spirit Week is to make sure it is inclusive of everyone and is something everyone can relate to,” said Francisco Gomez Rivas-Vasquez ’24, secretary of SGA. “One thing about high school is that there are a lot of groups of people, like those who are more interested in science, art, or athletics. We did not want to make the theme something that applies to only one group of people.”
They decided to do the theme of fantasy worlds because they felt it would best appeal to the student body as a whole. They then carried on to the next step: the planning of activities. Aside from seeking the necessary approval from faculty and administration, the students organized Spirit Week in its entirety. Mr. Jorge Guzman, the SGA faculty sponsor, noted that he tries to “allow the students to pick and choose the direction Spirit Week takes, and [he] tries to only intervene if something could potentially injure someone or something impossible to do on campus.”
SGA members also recognized Mrs. Patricia Sasser, the Head of the Upper School, as being a huge help with coordinating the event. Sasser “helped us in getting approval quickly so we could continue and be on schedule,” said Todd “TJ” Malone ’25.
Gomez Rivas-Vasquez and Zaldivar created an agenda before each meeting on a Spirit Week confidential document. Zaldivar then directed each meeting by going through the list item by item and tackling the details with the rest of SGA. Through this process, they aimed to ensure that all the activities could occur without a hitch.
Zaldivar also introduced an idea that promised to revolutionize the essence of Spirit Week as RE students knew it: allowing each grade the same opportunity to win. SGA aimed to execute this in two ways: by adjusting bracket systems and making the scoring more transparent.
In previous years, the tournament brackets in Spirit Week competitions heavily favored seniors by pitting them against freshmen. This year, SGA made freshmen go against sophomores and juniors go against seniors for each sports event, allowing games to be won on merit and not on build or experience. Each grade also had to go against every other.
SGA then established a document containing all the events’ results that was made available to all SGA members and eventually the entire school. SGA verified each event’s ranking in their collective group chat before officializing the points on the scoreboard. The aim was to lend a sense of transparency to the scoring that would prevent allegations of points-fixing. Several students alleged that 700 points were mysteriously added to the seniors’ final tally last year.
Spirit Week kicked off with a junior versus senior indoor soccer game, which the juniors managed to win. “Beating the seniors really gave us hope because sporting events are usually a big part of your overall Spirit Week points,” said Lauren Howard ’23. The overall mood among non-seniors was optimistic.
Senior outrage began to simmer the following day, during a trivia contest between all four grades held in assembly. The sophomores achieved an overwhelming victory, but seniors were filled with doubts regarding the buzzer speeds, the rules, and inaccurate questions. When the teams were asked to name the capital in the Hunger Games universe, the moderator, Gomez Rivas-Vasquez, gave points to a sophomore who answered with the name of the country instead of “The Capital.”
In the immediate aftermath of the event, Nina Lampert ’22 expressed skepticism and dissatisfaction. “I feel extremely disappointed in the non-rigging of Spirit Week. I feel as though the trivia game was biased with a sophomore being the master of ceremony in the trivia game. It should have been someone more neutral like a teacher.”
Nika Kazumyan ’22 echoed Lampert’s criticisms. “I am disappointed in the school’s complete negligence towards the traditions of our school. Seniors always win, and it is something many of us have been looking forward to for a long time. We are supposed to be celebrating, but instead, we’re losing,” she said.
As the week went on, however, the seniors made a comeback. They won all five dress-up days, the video game competition, dodgeball, bakeoff, battlebots, chalk, and lip sync, an event which they had won for the last three years. Kira Oglesby ’22, one of the main choreographers and event planners since her freshman year, expressed her delight over achieving victory once again. “This is our third time in a row and our last time. It feels great to keep it going.”
As the Spirit Week scores came out, so did more criticism. Students and faculty alike murmured around the campus about the continued rigging of Spirit Week. Howard remarked that “when SGA devalued the sporting events by 50 percent, it really upset us. It just seemed suspicious.”
Jake Perdigon ’24, the videographer of a high-quality sophomore lip sync, echoed Howard’s suspicions. “The lip sync video was a tough loss, as the reaction from the balcony during assembly echoed,” he said. “Although the scoreboard did not show it, we know, much like the seniors know about their loss last year, that we were robbed.”
Lauren Zanarini ’22, Vice President of SGA, addressed the criticisms. “In terms of lip sync, we selected a panel of judges to rank the videos, just as we do every year,” she said. “The seniors had a little extra time to compile their video, which some may have interpreted as a ‘senior advantage,’ but it was not something planned. It was just because seniors need to prioritize the November 1st early application deadline. Each video was judged according to the same guidelines, and the ranks were averaged to produce the results.”
When questioned about his thoughts concerning the backlash, Zaldivar said, “We shared the scoreboard. Everyone could see clearly that it was not rigged. I did everything in my power to make sure that it was not rigged. Trust me, plenty of people wanted it to be. But still, we did our best and I stand by the fact that this year was fair.”
Although Zaldivar aimed for impartiality, it seemed as though the freshmen gave up before they even tried. They lacked attendance in numerous events, leaving them with three 0s on the scoreboard. When questioned about their lack of lip sync submission, SGA representative Hannah Zuckerman ’25 said, “We were in the process of making a video encompassing the events of Spirit Week, and we were going to add music in the background, but the deadline caught up with us.”
Despite all of this, the freshmen still enjoyed their experience overall. “I was not very happy about our loss, but the seniors deserved it,” said Alexis Barna ’25. “My first time doing Spirit Week at the high school was a great experience and I can’t wait to see what next year brings.”
As October tied to a close, Spirit Week did as well. Although there was a window of opportunity for seniors to lose, they grasped the victory with a score of 1325 points and a gap of 200 points separating them from the runners-up, the juniors. Following behind them were the sophomores with a score of 1025 points and the freshmen with 400 points.
For Zaldivar, however, the experiment taught him one thing: no matter how fair it actually is, Spirit Week will never feel fair to the student body if it remains focused on competition between grades.
“There is always a hierarchy component involved when you have groups of differing ages,” he said. “The best way to get past that elitist system of whoever is older wins is to go back to the system used at the middle school: ten randomly assigned groups of differing ages. The system works at the middle school, and it works very well. If I were to do it all over again or were able to get a second-semester Spirit Week approved, that is how I would do it to consolidate its equity.”