Spirit Week at Berkeley High

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions about Spirit Week


Concern about Rally Day at BHS

Sept 2008

My daughter came home very worried about a custom at Berkeley High called ''Rally Day.'' She says on this day, kids are supposed to get drunk and high. You have to wear red and gold or everybody gets mad at you. I am not too happy about a custom that encourages kids to get drunk and forces them to wear particular colors (sounds too much like a gang custom). Have other parents heard about this? Can the administration put a stop to it? not happy

My daughter is a junior at BHS and has been participating in rally day every year. The red and yellow are Berkeley's colors. While there are a few kids that may get high or drunk, the administration makes it clear that that kind of behavior will lead to suspension and will not be tolerated. BHS looks more like a red and yellow Halloween that day than a gang. BHS parent

Rally Day is not a drunken frenzy, nor a Grateful Dead concert. It is Spirit Day. The students are encouraged to wear the school colors (red and yellow). There is a rush on buying all the yellow and red shirts in the local stores. On the actual day, there are some fairly outrageous outfits, some facepainting, some crazy dyed hair, pompoms and BHS shirts. It is not an day for drinking and getting high. I say have your camera out and send them off for a rare community builder like this. Cam

Rally Day: there are tons of special days at Berkeley High, they are intended to bring the kids together with school spirit, hence the wearing of school colors. I think it's a great idea in a school that has so many kids, getting behind your teams, coming together, it's a great feeling also. As far as drinking, that's always a choice, and reminding your daughter of that is essential. She can ''say no thanks'' and hang with kids who don't participate in illegal activities, not everyone is. Peer pressure can be strong but she's got to learn how make her own decisions, right? That said, I think, the drinking and drug use at Berkeley High are really out of control. The school admin will say they of course don't condon it, but not much has happened from what I can see to prevent it. Maybe it's the climate in Berkeley itself? Parents who feel it's okay for kids to ''experiment'' or who smoke themselves, or are too afraid to confront their children about their drug and alcohol usage? Who knows, maybe all of the above. Sorry to get off topic, but it feels like a powerful issue and you've kind of touched on it in your posting.

I like the ''spirit days'' at Berkeley High, it's a time when the kids can relax and have fun. Backwards day, 80s day, pajama day, etc. I hope your daughter will have fun with it and stay away from the booze! anon parent of a senior

Rally Day is the culmination of Spirit Week (or Homecoming). Red and yellow are BHS school colors (I guess that could be construed as some sort of a ''gang'') and most kids wear those colors to show pride in their high school. My daughter is a senior and has never had any problems with Rally Day. She also has never joined in with the kids who drink or do drugs. There are always kids around who drink and do drugs, so my advice is to work with your teenager on not succumbing to peer pressure ANY time, not just on Rally Day. And yes, the administration does a reasonable job of curtailing drunken/drugged behavior at these school events. anon

Rally day is the culmination of Spirit Week at Berkeley High. Its true that there is a cohort of students that take the opportunity to behave badly, including getting high or drunk. While some kids do this, the majority don't, and the administration does what it can to discourage it. If your child ''hangs out'' with kids who commonly use drugs and alcohol they will likely do so on rally day. If she doesn't, she won't, but she will probably see kids who are intoxicated.

The day includes an all-school assembly - I think the only one they have all year given the size of the school, and each grade puts on a performance. The administration generally asks for parent volunteers to help chaperone the event.

Most, but not all, of the students do wear the school colors of red and gold - its not a gang thing, just school spirit. Its actually amazing to see the wide variety of ''costumes'' the kids wear - I like to drive to school that day to see the enthusiasm.

I would volunteer to be a chaperone if it fit into my schedule. Look for a note from Janet Huseby asking for volunteers close to the date (I think its right around Halloween)and take the opportunity to see for yourself what goes on. Those requests for volunteers come through the Berkeley High etree. I wouldn't worry

I've been a parent volunteer at BHS for several years on Rally Day and it seems like the most fun day of the year to me. There is so much energy, and the red/gold outfits are great! I mostly saw kids who were happy and having a really good time. Some kids do stupid things, but there is a big effort to keep things under control. I bet your daughter will have a good time. BHS parent

Rally Day, part of Spirit Week, is organized by the school and kids. It's supposed to be fun. Wearing school colors is supposed to encourage team spirit, rather than gangs. On the other hand, the kids are not supposed to be just getting high - so contacting the school would be appropriate. No kid would be forced to get high - so this is an appropriate moment to start talking about peer pressure and ways to resist it. Perhaps she is hanging out with friends that don't suit her. This could be a moment to encourage her to join a club or get an activity that gives her someone else to hang out with, because there are plenty of kids who are not using drugs or alcohol at Berkeley High. Fiona

I have a sophomore girl. She loved getting dressed up in red & gold for rally day last year and is already planning this year's outfit. I am not sure what is so scary about that for your daughter. But if it's the drinking and drugs at BHS - plenty of kids are completely clean. There is drinking and drugs at every high school in the country. Part of learning to be a person in this world is coming to grips with that. I know of no one last year among my daughter's friends who got plastered on rally day, or who felt pressured to do it. I presume there were some who did. Your daughter will have to find her own way, her friends, and figure out who she wants to be and part of that will be her personal decisions about drinking and drugs. I can only say...keep talking to her about everything. There are plenty of kids at BHS who are not stoners (and of course some who are.) mom of a BHS sophomore

My daughter graduated from BHS in class of 2008. While I am not naive enough to think that she shared everything with me, I never heard of a requirement that kids get drunk or high for rally day. In general my kid was leery and dismissive of those who felt the need to get drunk or high. However, rally day was seen as a fun time to see how much ''ketchup and mustard'' (school colors) one could fit into one's wardrobe. She and her friends designed and made (or had made) matching t-shirts several years. The group pictures in the yearbook of each class in red and gold were fun, as were the pictures the kids took of each other. Some of these now grace the wall of her college dorm room. I never heard anything about such school spirit displays being at all gang-related. teachergran

The real issue here is not the merits or lack of same of ''Rally Day,'' but how to deal with peer pressure. Certainly there is no *requirement* that students dress in school colors. My two sons never did, and in fact, they viewed Rally Day with a certain jaundiced bemusement. If allegedly school-spirited students got ''mad'' at them they did not care and my sons made the choice to associate with other students who similarly did not care.

Your daughter does NOT have to dress any particular way, and certainly the school is not sanctioning students showing up drunk. You need to reframe this situation in your mind as one involving how your daughter responds to certain types of peer pressure. If, in fact, she does not wish to dress in red and yellow, she should not. If her peers think she is uncool for making this choice, she might wish to explain to them why she is not participating in this custom. You can support her here and perhaps even coach her as to what she might say to her friends.

As for drinking, there is NO excuse, EVER, for students to ''get drunk.'' If you daughter's friends are claiming that this is some kind of requirement or norm you might chat with your daughter regarding her choice of friends. This is likely not the last time that peer pressure will encourage your daughter to partake in activities she might rightfully wish to avoid. It may be time to have a heart-to-heart about this overall issue. ---No red and yellow in my kids' wardrobe, either

Got Spirit?

Nov 2000

Kids these days!
This morning after serving our time at the downtown Berkeley Y, my friend and I headed to our cars in the lot just off Milvia. We passed a group of teen girls all wearing the same red T-shirts with gold logos and matching shorts, carrying red and gold pompoms. My friend, who is a Berkeley Type but does not have kids, said "I guess they must be the Berkeley High cheerleading squad." But then we passed another group of about 8 boys and girls (who decidedly did NOT look like cheerleaders) all wearing identical red cowboy hats with gold glitter, and then another gaggle of kids all wearing the same red and yellow striped knee socks and matching red hats, and another group in matching red and yellow Hawaiian shirts, and then we started noticing that EVERY teenager we passed was all decked out in red and gold. Red and gold leis around their necks, red and yellow socks, hats, shorts, T-shirts, shoes, red and gold everything. My friend said, "I guess red and yellow must be the Berkeley High colors." Every kid we passed was loping along grinning and wearing red and gold, or in a red and gold huddle giggling and yacking, no matter what kind of kid they were, and there are all kinds of kids at BHS. Across Milvia in the big courtyard of Berkeley High we could see an ocean of red and gold. "WHAT'S GOING ON!?" said my friend. I said "I think it's Spirit Week!" and then we had a discussion about how when WE were in high school it was NOT COOL to have SPIRIT, and NOBODY would ever dress up just because the SCHOOL said we had to show some SPIRIT. Kids these days! Don't they bring a smile to your face? -- G.