‘America Day’ fails to make Wellesley High’s Spirit Week cut

Spirit Week is a long-standing tradition at Wellesley High School leading up to the annual pep rally and big Thanksgiving Day football matchup vs. Needham. Every year the halls vibrate with excitement as students psych themselves up by theme dressing to express their Raiders pride. This year’s spirit days have included Mismatch Monday; Pajama Day; and Tropical Tuesday. But not America Day, which was proposed by some students but rejected by the WHS administration.

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Wellesley vs. Needham football, Thanksgiving 2021

In a letter to the school community, Principal Jamie Chisum explained the decision “not to go forward with that spirit theme because it felt really different than the other themes kids came up with for the week. We felt that the topic has been politicized beyond our school and we wanted to avoid politics…Spirit Week is intended to be a light and fun way for our students to get excited about our pep rally and Thanksgiving Day football game.”

Some students pushed back against the notion that a patriotic theme was inherently divisive and planned to do America Day anyway—we’re guessing that would mean lots of red, white, and blue clothing. Sartorially straying from the enshrined Spirit Day schedule will not subject students to objections or sanctions from the administration, who are well versed in the Massachusetts state law that protects students’ right to “personal dress and appearance.”

But it does seem like an extra day was inadvertently tacked onto the Spirit Day schedule. Call it Opposite Day. In trying not to make the school atmosphere political and divisive, Chisum conceded in his letter, “We acknowledge that the impact for some people has been just the opposite of our intention and that we have inadvertently politicized this activity.  I am definitely sorry for any negative effect this has had on kids and families.”