School spirit is an important part of any school culture; but what exactly is school spirit? I think the meaning is different for everyone, but with the beginning of every year, we as a school hope to get students, faculty, staff, and parents excited about being a part of the MPA community. Every new academic year begins with Convocation and continues with our spirit week in preparation for the ultimate show of school spirit – the pep rally. After the rally, Homecoming activities help to incite enthusiasm and get the school year off to a great start.

Convocation is such a special event at the Academy. Students are given the opportunity to get on stage and share their roles and excitement for the new school year. The ceremony includes presentations from leaders of groups like Student Council, Arts Council, and House leaders who share their vision for the school year. They make new and returning students feel welcome at the beginning of the new year. House leaders get the student body excited about being a member of each house and the school community.

Spirit week allows students (as well as  faculty and staff) to show their school spirit by dressing up for theme days. The Upper School Student Council selected the themes this year, which were based on The Academy Awards; all the days were centered around movies, such as classic Disney and action movies. Students especially, though we have some extremely enthusiastic faculty members as well, go all-out, really representing the theme to the best of their ability. Students get excited about showing off their creativity; the theme the last day is school spirit and makes for an amazing day of a sea of maroon across campus.

The pep rally this year was for the entire school from Pre-K to our Seniors. Student athletes from all levels were recognized: our Lower School soccer program, our Middle School volleyball and soccer teams, and our Upper School tennis, volleyball, soccer, and golf teams were all greeted with massive cheers from the crowd. The energy was very exciting by having all of our students together, but also with all of our faculty and staff cheering on the athletes as well. The highlight of the day was the all-school cheers led by the Middle School Student Council and recently inducted Hall of Fame teacher, Mr. Malcolm! Lastly, the entire school broke out into a dance party on Jones Bowl, highlighted with our own Head of School Mrs. Sheppard dancing with the fourth grade class! We even managed to capture the activities (and the dance-off) on video!

Saturday Homecoming was a day of reconnecting and enjoying the beautiful late summer weather. Talking with parents and seeing former students is one of the best parts of Homecoming. A great moment was seeing an alum from the class of ‘16, coming back from college to surprise his sister, class of  ‘18, as she played with the Varsity volleyball team. At the always much-anticipated carnival, the bounce houses were extra bouncy and the MPA Parents Association and its generous volunteers worked long hours with smiles on their faces. They made sure everyone was happy; carnival-goers’ stomachs were full of yummy food and they enjoyed the Spirit Gear they had purchased. And of course, the Lower School bike parade! Over fifty Lower School students rode around in their decorated bikes for a great show of school spirit led by Ms. Melville and Mrs. Sheppard.

The absolute highlight of the week for me was the Hall of Fame induction in Alumni Hall. Over 150 family members, alumni, faculty and staff attended to honor past and present teachers, making the night a truly amazing experience. To see how the inductees impacted and influenced their students makes me reflect on how I can make a difference to mine. It was a great program with many stories of the Academy from days past.

School spirit is the lifeblood of any school, and I look forward to seeing how it will grow as the year continues with more House events and activities like “Pack the Place” – game nights where we encourage students, faculty, staff, and parents to pack the gym and support our Warriors.

Becoming the new Dean of Student Life is an awesome responsibility. Picking up where Mr. Malcolm left off and putting my own spin on the position is an enormous task that I have looked forward to embracing. My goal for spirit and student life at MPA is to get all of us on campus excited about the school and to realize that we are a part of a wonderful fraternity, lucky to be a student, teacher, or parent at the Academy.

By Daniel Peters

Mr. Peters teaches Middle School social studies and coaches basketball and golf. He also is Middle School assistant principal and our curriculum leader for physical education.