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The Student News Site of Whitmer High School

The Panther Press

The Student News Site of Whitmer High School

The Panther Press

The Student News Site of Whitmer High School

The Panther Press

Pep rallies: what’s the hype?

Katie Peters
Whitmer Panthers cheer and enjoy a pep rally before a Friday night football game.

Whitmer High School’s pep rallies are a huge part of panther life and require the hard work of many in the school in order to come together and bring the WHS spirit, but what really goes into the perfect pep rally?

Whitmer High school has a student body bursting with Panther Pride and pep rallies are just one of the many ways that this school exemplifies that. One of the main groups that plan the pep assemblies are called Panther Commanders. They are a chosen group of seniors who usually come up with the ideas for games and events. The commanders believe that there is more to the assemblies than just fun and games. 

“I think the purpose of them is to bring people together and cheer on our fellow classmates. They also allow us to just have fun and make memories together,” senior Panther Commander Tayler Staples says.

It takes a lot of work to make sure these pep assemblies keep students interested.

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“All the ideas, games, and everything comes from my Panther Commanders,” Panther Commander advisor Mr. Peters says, “I just let the students drive it so it stays fresh and current.”

Student involvement in pep rallies is what makes them as fun as they are. Another group that contributes to the excitement is the cheerleaders who lead all the chants and cheers that take place during pep rallies. 

“We have a lot of band dances that we do. We split up the cheerleaders by age on each side of the gym so [students] can follow along easier. And we have practices once a month just to work on band dances, the fight song, and cheers,” Senior varsity cheerleader Molly Dearsman explains how cheerleaders prepare for pep rallies.

The athletic department approves and technically “runs” our pep rallies, they are mostly responsible for double checking all of the events that will take place, time managing, and generally overseeing these events. Ultimately, it takes a nation to execute a successful assembly. 

“The athletics department is there to support, but there are so many other people that are involved as well,” athletic director Mr. Flemmings states.

Of course, a pep rally would not be a pep rally without the famous Whitmer marching band! They are vital to the energy of pep rallies. They play the music for the fight song, play the music that guides activities during the assembly, and they bring out the beloved alma mater at the end of every pep assembly.

“For pep assemblies, the marching band performs with our marching instruments. We already know the fight song and alma mater, so the only other ‘songs’ we perform are called chucks which are percussion. We do chucks with moves and have fun,” senior drum major Rachel Rutledge explains. 

The band is always there to bring the hype music like they are intensely trained to do. 

“We practice the fight song to make sure our tempo is accurate, and we bring all of our spirit into the cheer we bring,” Rutledge says.

Whatever all these groups do for these pep assemblies is working because people are noticing the difference it makes for the actual sports games that follow an assembly.

“I definitely think they bring more people to the games and the student section definitely helps the team to play their best,” Staples says.

Pep rallies bring energy that is really helpful to the athletes and intimidating to the opponents during games.

“I notice it can help us and also hurt our opponent,” Mr. Peters observes as the Panther Commanders advisor and varsity assistant basketball coach.

Additionally, there is also one other aspect of pep assemblies that causes speculation. And that is crowning the spirit stick winner. The spirit stick is awarded to whichever grade level chants the fight song the loudest during a pep rally. Majority of the time seniors win this tradition, and that has raised questions amongst students if the judging is really fair or not.

“I can guarantee that there is no predetermined dialogue taking place of who is going to win,” Mr. Flemmings clarifies.

It is true that there may be a bias towards seniors because staff has more connection with them and wants them to have good experiences for their last year. No matter how much reassurance students get that it is totally fair and equitable judging, some students still assume seniors are favored due to this.

When Molly Dearsman was asked if she felt that the spirit stick winner is a rigged competition she shared, “I feel like sometimes it is because it’s the seniors’ last year, you know”.

In the end, judging is just too in the moment to really be rigged and truly is about getting people as hype as possible. It is impossible to really know who is louder without a scientific way to test it anyway. It is the competitive spirit of the grade levels that fuels this idea of biased judging.

“No matter who wins, the other grade will always think it’s rigged,” Staples concludes. That is what keeps the competition so intense and fun each assembly. 

Whether or not pep assemblies are really rigged or biased towards seniors, they are still a fun event that students like to participate in. It fuels student pride and promotes healthy competition between grades. A pep rally needs this competition aspect to get people engaged and excited.

What a pep rally also needs is all these many groups in the school to work together like cogs in a machine. It takes a whole panther nation to be cohesive and put on such a good and exhilarating event. The work that goes into pep assemblies dispenses the invigorating Whitmer pep rallies we know and love.

“To be able to see that sense of pride in our school, in our community, is really fulfilling,” Mr. Flemmings expresses.

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