Every year, our school holds a "Holiday Rally." Every year, I cringe at the thought of it. Every year, there are a million things that can come off as totally inappropriate. And every year, my fears are laid to rest quietly.
Until this year. This year, our ASB managed to pull off the worst rally I've seen in my 6.5 years at this school.
Lots of things conspired to make this year a disaster: (a) a new ASB director, who has a good head on his shoulders and knows what to do, but may not always be aware of how willing the students are to ignore his decrees regardless of the consequences; (b) two full years of student backlash against the administration, which has calmed a bit but which seems to resurface whenever these kids get caught up in the spotlight; (c) a "tradition" of gag gifts for selected seniors and faculty members, many of which involve inside jokes and potentially bawdy overtones, and (d) the pure, intense narcissism that seems to come with students in the spotlights.
The Winter sports teams were introduced, and each team captain made a little speech (one of which included enough sexual allusions that the microphone had to be removed by a staff member). Santa and Mrs. Claus showed up (staff members, and not the two I would have selected) and delivered gag gifts to selected seniors--a part of the program we were told would not be highlighted this year and which excludes and alienates the other three grade levels present--and several of them made covert (and, in two cases, overt) references to sex, drinking, and drug use. Two staff members were inconvenienced by gag gifts, and another two were blatantly insulted (three of the four in question, thankfully, were not present to be humiliated).
By the end of the day, the ASB Director and some of the student leaders had heard the feedback--none of it good--and understood a bit better why there had been talk last year of moving the rallies to the lunch hour and away from their current, get-out-of-class-free schedule. I'm left to wonder what we're rallying about, exactly, if every time we hand the microphone to a student it turns into "Look what I can do!*" instead of "Yay, team!" The purpose of a school rally is to foster school spirit, and--very, very sadly--I no longer believe that our own ASB is where we should be trying to find it.
* Several years ago we killed a program altogether because of this problem. It was something of a talent contest for the male students, and even though it was held at a local synagogue it was replete with shirtless dances, inappropriate language, and elementary-school-quality behavior, all with the fathers laughing and egging them on. It looked like a cross between a bachelor party and a frat initiation. This program was killed in the name of good taste . . . wouldn't it be a shame if the school rallies suffered the same fate?