Dawn and the School Spirit War (RS#84)

Original Publication Date: 1995

Ghostwriter? Yes, Suzanne Weyn


So stupid. The SMS baseball team is on a hot streak and in support, SMS puts on School Spirit Month. Yes, MONTH. Not week. Also? It's mandatory. Not explicitly, but it soon becomes very clear that there will be hell to pay if people dare forget or--perish the thought--choose to not participate. Dawn's solution to the harassment, threats, and assault (no hyperbole) is to get Spirit Month cancelled. Cue cries of teaching students to be subversive and undermining their patriotism, and of training them to be mindless sheeple. Finally, SMS compromises a return to Spirit Month, with the understanding that people can participate if they desire. LIKE IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN TO START WITH.

Rant time: I was a high school and middle school athlete, and I coached both levels (also participated in and coached for other levels). I've been part of teams that are doing very well in both capacities. I was the first girl from my high school to get on the medal stand for my track and field team (sixth place, pole vault; top 8 get medals). I was the manager of the basketball team that went to State three years in a row. I coached the cross country team that only lost one meet: the State Championships, at which they placed second. I coached the three-time League Champion and the State Champion track teams. On a far more casual level, I am huge UW Husky fan, and also support the Sounders FC, Seahawks, and Mariners. I understand being excited about sports and supporting teams. What I don't understand is forcing people who aren't connected to the team to care.

I actually agree with Dawn for the most part in this book, and sympathize with her more than I have in a while, possibly since #9 (The Ghost at Dawn's House). That's how outlandish the plot of this book is: I agree with conspiratorial, holier-than-thou Dawn Schafer. I do think she should have first attempted to have the SMS staff make it clear that participation was voluntary, but things got heated so fast that I can understand why she went straight to getting rid of it outright.

(Subplot is the Barrett-Dewitt household trying to fit into a too-small house and deciding to add on to it)

Established or continued in this book:

The Girls (and Logan):

Claudia candy:

Did we know that Mallory has blue eyes? I think we did. Dawn, Shannon, and Stacey do for sure; Jessi, Claudia, Mary Anne, and Kristy have brown eyes.

Claudia expresses concern over her fabric paint's claim of being waterproof. Makes sense, as she had that tie-dye outfit whose colors ran in the rain.

We're still subjected to a Stacey description in Chapter Two.

I have to give Logan credit: he's obviously happy that people are caring about his baseball team, but he also supports Mary Anne in standing up for herself even though she's trying to get rid of Spirit Month. He must have learned something when they had their break earlier.

Their Families: nothing new.

The Club (and clients):

Shannon's still the alternate officer, with Dawn as treasurer.


8th graders: Bruce Jamison, Katie Shea, Mary Sherwood

Teachers: Mr. Harold (science, no grade specified), Mr. Lehrer (not specified, but maybe English?), Mr. Wong (art)

Can we have a standing ovation for the vice principal, Mr. Kingbridge? When a food fight erupts, he has the students clean up the mess rather than the janitor.

Spirit Month includes the initial kick-off and Backward, Clean up Your School, Color, Dress Like a Teacher, Dress up, Garden, Make a New Friend, Mural, Pajama, and Retro Days. Dawn tells us that April 1 is a Wednesday, so that April had 22 school days (not including a possible spring break). I was expecting to find more than 22 themes, but no such luck.

Dawn's petition collected about 300 signatures, which is implied to represent about half of the student body. According to Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation, there are just under 400 students at SMS. A couple new students have joined, but not 200.

PSA Time: nothing stood out.

Misc: I was too busy being distracted by the stupidity.

The numbers:

Starting 8th grade: 7

Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 2

Halloweens in 8th grade: 4 (plus one in seventh)

Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 1

Christmases in 8th grade: 1 (Hanukkah is also mentioned, but no one in the BSC celebrates it)

Summers after 8th grade: 7

BSC Fights: 10

SMS Staff and Faculty: 48

Students (other than the BSC): 172; 108 8th graders, 6 7th graders, 42 6th graders, 15 unspecified. Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation tells us that SMS has about 380 students.

Clients: 31

Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 104

Mary Anne-2


Isabel Escalante said...

Oh, man. I read this book last September, a few weeks before the school where I work had Spirit WEEK. I remember even asking my boss if people take Spirit WEEK as seriously as they do in this book, and of course, she said that students don't really care if not everyone participates. And it's not like they would have such strong opinions... maybe a little disappointment (because the class that wins gets a prize), but never taken to extemes like in this book.

SJSiff said...

Yeah, it's just so beyond stupid!