Nothing builds school spirit like a night of stumbling through obstacle courses, pelting classmates with dodge balls, a plate of whipped cream to the face, choreographed dancing and a little bit of vomit.
The Norwich High School seniors and freshmen faced off against the juniors and sophomores in the culmination of a week’s worth of competitions—the time-honored tradition of Spirit Night. On Friday, March 24, at 7 p.m. NHS students and Norwich community members filled the high school gymnasium for the two-hour spectacle, hosted by the NHS Pep Club.
The Purple Team—seniors and freshmen—entered into the battle with 20 points on the board, earned during the teacher/faculty competitions at the pep rally earlier that day. The White Team—juniors and sophomores—came in with a whopping 90 points, won in both the pep rally and the daily costume contests throughout the week. The theme for Spirit Week 2017 was “Throwback to the Future.” Students dressed up for Martian Monday, Toddler Tuesday, Wrinkle Wednesday and Throwback Thursday, and wore their team colors on Friday. The White Team swept the competition, winning each day for a total of 50 points. At Friday’s pep rally the Purple Team got themselves on the board, winning two events, but it was not enough to close the gap before the final battle: Spirit Night.
As the gymnasium filled and swarms of Pep Club members finished setting up, the room buzzed with tension that went beyond the impending showdown.
“Have I got a story for you!” high school senior Gabby Mirabito exclaimed.
The buzz around the room, she explained, was about the controversial suspension of six students from the Spirit Night events, and possibly from school. On the previous night, during the traditional pre-Spirit Night toilet papering of the town and school, a high school senior broke into the cafeteria through an unlocked window and moved some chairs and tables into the parking lot. According to several students who were at the school, local police arrived and instructed students to move the furniture back into the cafeteria. Six male students, one the culprit, followed police orders. These same six students were suspended for breaking into the school, despite the fact that five of the six were simply following police orders. Many students at Spirit Night were upset at the administration for what they believed was unfair and undeserved punishment.
“If the police pull you over and ask to see your license, what do you do?” high school senior Bradley Darling argued. “Exactly. You give it to ‘em. You listen to the police.”
With their allegedly mistreated classmates at the back of their minds, the Purple Team entered Spirit Night with newfound vigor and motivation.
Throughout the night the two teams duked it out in obstacle courses, relays, tug of war, three-legged races, dodgeball, and egg toss. Some students searched for Skittles in a plate full of whipped cream using only their faces. Others paired up for a human version of Hungry, Hungry Hippos—one student laying prone on a square scooter while holding a basket and the other holding the first student’s legs and propelling them toward the balls at center court. Thankfully, there were no serious head-on collisions as the four pairs zoomed towards the center circle to scoop up as many balls as possible. When it came time for the dance competition White still led the way with 130 points, Purple trailing with 60.
The Purple Team performed first, assigned the “throwback” part of the theme. The dance featured well-known dance moves and songs from the 1950s to the 2000s. The team also honored a missing dancer, one who had been suspended, by featuring his football jersey and a sign that read “#FreeAustin,” a message specifically for Principal Waters, one of the dance judges. The White Team took on the “future” part of the theme, utilizing spaceship sound effects and songs like Katy Perry’s “E.T.” and the Jonas Brothers’ “Year 3000.” The team even turned off the gymnasium lights for an impressive glow-in-the-dark dance display. Despite their political statement—which Gabby Mirabito, senior, had expected to cost them the contest—the Purple team won the dance and added 30 points to their score, putting them back in the game.
In the final competitions of the night the teams faced off in a battle of the guts: Fear Factor. Students ate a meal of pickled pigs feet with a teaspoon of garlic, some coffee grounds, and dried crickets and larva. They washed this down with a seltzer water, clam juice and hot sauce concoction and finished off with Oreo cookies stuffed with Crisco, sardines and mustard for dessert. Purple won the event with seven students left standing. Surprisingly, only one of the total 16 participants puked. At this point all that was left to do was award points for SPCA donations, school attendance and sportsmanship. After Fear Factor it was anyone’s game, White with 130 and Purple with 120. Ultimately, the White team won the SPCA donation, school attendance and sportsmanship categories, propelling them to a 100-point victory over Purple, 220-120.
The memorable night was enjoyed by nearly 500 students and community members. The only things missing were the five young men unjustly suspended from the festivities, three of whom were seniors and thus deprived of their final Spirit Night.