Spirit apparently comes with a price tag, sometimes a hefty one.

The Orange Board of Education is exploring ways to raise school spirit at its high school.

The most recent proposal was described by high school Principal Paul Lucas, who told board of education members that there are few places in the building where the word Orange or the lion mascot image appears. Placing giant pride window decals over large glass areas in the school could change all that, he said. Ideal spots could be the glassed-in fishbowl area, a hallway with a wall of windows and the windows above an area where students meet individually with teachers in their offices.

Mr. Lucas said it boils down to culture, climate, morale and pride.

So, what’s the cost? The three giant pride window decals would add up to $14,770.

That’s pretty expensive, especially in these times when districts are tightening their belts and stretching tax dollars from residents and the state to cover classroom and other expenses.

The buzzwords “branding” and “building community” surfaced during the discussion. Apparently, branding is trending in high schools nationwide making the pursuit of spirit not exclusive to Orange.

We believe that Orange already is a positive brand, based on its history of quality educational programs and student achievements.

But let’s get back to school spirit. What is spirit? Do you have to see it on a giant window to feel it?

Board member Melanie Weltman said it best. “I believe that school spirit is tied more to relationships than the things you buy. How we interact with our students and each other is probably key.”

One activity that occurs in the fishbowl, the theater group Stagecrafters, is an example of a school group that fosters camaraderie as students work together both on and off the stage to put on productions. This builds spirit. Orange is known for its theater program.

The debate club, Model United Nations, robotics teams, art, music and other Orange activities also build camaraderie and spirit. Orange is known for these and other activities as well.

Then there’s sports.

When the Orange football team headed to the Division IV, Region 14 playoff game against St. Marys Memorial Roughriders this past November, no Orange spirit bus followed. Head football coach Adam Bechlem commented to the Times that about 20 Wapakoneta High School students, cross-town rivals of the Roughriders, and the Orange band made up the student section because “zero students, aside from siblings, zero students came to the game from Orange.”

Though Orange lost, student fans would have had a bonding experience cheering on their team.

Decals may remind a person to think about the school name, but it’s the deeper emotional connection – the cheering to support the team or working together on plays or projects – that bond students. Being part of something meaningful builds spirit.

If parents, students and residents like the idea of giant decals, perhaps the PTA could launch a fundraiser.

But maybe there’s a better way to promote school spirit. Perhaps the district should designate a wall where students use their talents to design, sketch, and paint their ideas, visually reflecting their concepts of school spirit. Paint over it every couple of years to get more student reflections.

Or ask students for their views on how to promote school spirit. Chances are they’ll come up with some innovative ideas.

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