50 Tips, Tricks, and Ideas for Building School Spirit
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50 Tips, Tricks, and Ideas for Building School Spirit

We know it when we feel it: School spirit warms a school, makes everyone smile, and brings people together. It makes everyone feel that they are part of something greater than themselves. There are so many ways that a student council can foster school spirit, whether it’s through community service, school-wide initiatives, or just plain old fun. We’ve paired up with our friends at National Student Council to put together a poster with a list of our fifty favorites. And if you are looking for more inspiration, check out the National Student Project Database.

I Want the Free School Spirit Poster

1. Serve your community with a “Rake and Run.”

Find out who in your community needs help around the house, and plan a day where students can sign up to rake lawns and bag the leaves. Students at Beloit Memorial High School found that doing common yard work is a fun way to get everyone out of the house, spend time together, and help out your community.

2. Make a team-themed spirit cowbell.

A brown cowbell with a school spirit message written on it.
Use craft paint and ribbons in your school’s colors to create a custom cowbell for pep rallies and sporting events.

3. Host a virtual talent show.

During 2020 we spent a lot more time at home, which gave us plenty of time to develop some new talents (anyone else learn how to play the ukulele?). Invite your classmates to sign onto a Zoom event where they share a new talent they developed during the pandemic. Encourage teachers and school staff to join in too!

4. Do a book donation project.

Not everyone has access to Wi-Fi or ebooks, and getting to the library can be challenging. Create a drop box at your school where classmates can donate books. Then, using a survey tool like Survey Monkey or Google Forms, reach out to families to find out who wants books and where to deliver them. Work with your advisor to create a plan for delivery.

5. Plan a “design a mask” challenge.

Challenge your classmates to come up with a design for a mask that celebrates school spirit. Then, pick your three favorites. Create a video where you interview each classmate and ask them about their design and how it represents your school. If you have the funds, work with a local printing shop to get the masks made and sell them to raise money for your school.

6. Create a school cheer.

Simple or complicated? It’s up to your school! Make it catchy so that years from now, it will still pop into alumni’s heads and remind them of the good times they had at your school. This activity a good opportunity to connect with your school’s cheer squad and collaborate!

7. Host a virtual Senior Night.

Pictures of seniors being celebrated at a virtual senior night celebration.

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Celebrate your seniors by broadcasting highlights of their greatest accomplishments on social media!

8. Hold a Community Day.

This makes a great annual tradition that builds school pride and stronger neighborhood-school ties. Students, teachers, staff, parents, and alumni get together to give a day of service in the community, whether by cleaning up sidewalks, planting trees, visiting seniors, or serving at food banks.

9. Highlight your school’s diversity with holiday hallway decorations.

Welcome classmates back from winter or spring break with holiday hallways. Decorate school hallways for different cultural traditions to educate students about different holidays around the world.

10. Host a Color Run.

A picture of four female students who just participated in a Color Run

A color run is a healthy and fun way to show your school spirit. Check out the article “10 Reasons You Should Do the Color Run.”

11. Make spirit shakers.

Plastic water bottles with beads in them so they can be used as school spirit shakers

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Use liter soda bottles and pony beads in your school colors. Add curling ribbons to the lid and ribbons around the middle of the bottle. Then use them at school pep rallies and sporting events.

12. Send staff thank-you letters.

Draft personalized letters to school staff to thank them for being a part of your school community! Consider sharing this meaningful gesture as an activity for back-to-school, end-of-year, Teacher Appreciation Week, or Activity Advisor Appreciation Day.

13. Celebrate your school’s unsung heroes.

Two pictures of students celebrating school staff.

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Plan a day to honor the support staff in your school. Consider the special needs aides, custodians, and/or cafeteria workers. In this example from American Nicaraguan School in Managua, Nicaragua, students created bulletin boards to celebrate the stories of maintenance staff. Then, they hosted a luncheon in their honor!

14. Set up a virtual calming room

A picture of a school's virtual calming room.

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School can get stressful, especially during exams or big projects. Link guided meditations, online puzzles and games, yoga videos, and other fun ways to take a break to your school’s website.

15. Create a school mantra that shows your school pride.

For example, We are Eagles. We are considerate. We are responsible. Engage with your school principal to craft a mantra that reflects your unique school culture. You could even have specific mottos for each grade!

16. Surprise your rival school with positivity.

Spread kindness and positivity to your rival school! Surprise them by decorating their sidewalks or hanging posters with positive messages during the evening or over a weekend.

17. Use a spirit can.

A collage of three pictures that show student cheerleaders using a spirit can.

Jointly sponsor a spirit can in partnership with the cheer team. During school events and game time-outs, student council members or cheerleaders lift the lid on the spirit can, signaling for the crowd to cheer. The higher the lid is lifted, the louder the crowd cheers. As the lid is lowered to the can, the crowd becomes softer. The spirit can holds T-shirts and candy, which can be thrown out to the loudest fans.

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18. Host a photo booth.

Three students in their school gym getting their photo taken in a photo booth.

Design your own “frame” with your school mascot or colors and let students line up for photos. Post them on your school’s website (with permission, of course).

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19. Let seniors personalize their parking spots.

A picture of a high school senior siting in a parking spot she painted.

Finally, finally! Seniors get to park in the front row. Advocate for seniors to get designated prime parking spots and work with your school administration to allow custom decoration. Then, invite seniors to show their pride with a little personalization!

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20. Design a spirit stick.

an empty water bottle that has been used to make a school spirit stick

Use your creativity to create a spirit stick with your school colors! This example uses an empty gallon water bottle, a broomstick, beads, and ribbon. Award the stick on a revolving basis to the grade or class that shows the most school spirit throughout the year.

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21. Host a school-wide Amazing Race.

Students go on a scavenger hunt around the school, completing certain tasks. The last team to make it to each checkpoint is out.

22. Play a student vs. faculty competition.

Organize a game where students compete against faculty. It could be a basketball or kickball game—or even musical chairs! Hilarity is guaranteed!

23. Hold a door decorating contest.

A classroom door decorated like a witch for Halloween

Host door decorating contests with themes such as holidays, homecoming, spirit days, or making the world a better place. Reveal the winning classroom over morning announcements and award the winners with prizes, like a pizza or ice cream party. Here are 50 awesome classroom door ideas.

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24. Hold a t-shirt decorating contest.

Challenge students to design a spirit shirt for your school. Feature all entries on a bulletin board in a common area or webpage so that everyone can view the entries. Determine the winner by popular vote or by a committee vote.

25. Share positive messages with a Kindness Rocks Project.

painted rocks with kind messages on them

Inspire positivity and kindness around your school community with a Kindness Rocks Project. Paint rocks with a positive word or message and hide them throughout your school and community.

26. Create a stress painting.

On a stressful day for students, like state testing or finals week, set up a large blank canvas in the common area along with paints in your school colors. Encourage students to “throw” paint against the canvas using paintbrushes and sponges. When the activity is over, you’ll have an amazing painting to display!

27. Hold an old-fashioned field day.

Support your school’s field day activities by organizing and running different events and competitions.

28. Celebrate your school’s history.

Educate new students and introduce incoming students to the rich history of the school. Make weekly history announcements, include a history column in the school paper, or post a history board in the halls to feature influential teachers, founders, the school’s namesake, and outstanding alumni.

29. Open a school spirit and supply store.

Sweatshirts with school names on them

Sell spirit wear so everyone can get decked out in your school colors. You could even create an online pop-up shop that makes it easy for families to buy school spirit wear from home. Use the proceeds to raise funds for your school or a charitable cause!

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30. Showcase student art in a virtual gallery.

Use Google Slides or other display program to create a virtual gallery where your classmates can put their artwork on display. This easy-to-follow tutorial will help you get started. You can even add background music and host a virtual opening reception event that you promote on your school’s social channels.

31. Choose an entrance song for spirit events.

Get students fired up with a rocking song that gets them on their feet and cheering. You can make it a classic jam like “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor or something more contemporary, like “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, or create an entire playlist of appropriate songs to use as entrance music to pep rallies, assemblies, and ceremonies. Check out these song tips from Education to the Core, along with other great ideas for spirit assemblies.

32. Paint a unity wall.

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Make all students feel welcome in your school with a unity wall that highlights what makes them unique and the characteristics they share. This Unity Wall at South Lakes High School in Reston, VA, celebrates their diverse student body but makes it clear that while they come from many different backgrounds—they are all Seahawks!

33. Make spirit bracelets.

A black and red bracelet with a school spirit message on it

Use school colors and letters. Pass them out at lunchtime or at sporting events. Customize them for special events.

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34. Compose a school song.

A school song is a tradition that will create lasting memories for generations. If you have a talented student or teacher musician, you could even compose an original song. Already have one? Host a contest to update and refresh it. Then teach it to the student body!

35. Share compliment cards.

Challenge your student leaders to pass out compliment cards with notes such as “You have great style,” “I love your smile,” and “You’re a great friend!” Include instructions on each card that direct the recipient to pay the compliment forward to someone else—creating a butterfly effect of kindness across your school!

36. Designate special dress-up days.

Dress-up days, such as tie-dye day, beach day, jersey day, and favorite book character day, can be a great way for students to get creative and have fun. To increase participation and promote inclusion, be sure to incorporate ideas that are easy to do, such as favorite outfit day or school colors day.

37. Face-paint with your school colors.

Recruit art students to showcase their talents by painting their peers’ faces with school colors. Schedule it on a pep assembly day to give students the opportunity to amp up their school spirit.

38. Hold a poster contest.

A red and white school spirit poster.

Have different homerooms, school clubs, or teams make their best spirit posters to display in the halls. Present the winning one at a pep rally and reward the artists with small gifts, like school key chains or rally towels.

39. Throw a back-to-school cookout.

Get the whole school community together to get “fired up” for the school year. Having time to casually socialize with teachers and staff helps ease the transition for students and families.

40. Decorate with erasable chalk.

Welcome back new and returning students and staff to a new school year or after spring break by decorating school sidewalks with positive messages. This could be a good opportunity to engage with art students to create an even more impressive display!

41. Host a school movie night.

Spread a king-size sheet or painter’s tarp on the side of the school to project a movie and invite students and their families to bring lawn chairs or blankets. If the weather’s cold or rainy, turn your school gym into a movie theater and spread out the gymnastics mats for seating.

42. Host a virtual tournament.

Engage your student body and foster a positive school climate in the midst of distance learning by hosting a virtual tournament or game night! At Cimarron-Memorial High School in Las Vegas, NV, they hosted a virtual Among Us game where participants were divided into different Google Meet rooms, each moderated by a student council member.

43. Come up with a year-long theme.

Collaborate with your principal to create a motivational school theme for the year, like teamwork or respect. Integrate the theme into as many aspects of your school as possible throughout the year. For example, introduce the theme at your back-to-school night and incorporate it in your school newsletters throughout the year. Read this great article from Education World on how to engage the whole school in a unified, yearlong theme.

44. Spread cafeteria compassion.

Write kind notes to your cafeteria staff and give them to students who are standing in line for lunch, along with directions to pass the note to a cafeteria staff member. With minimal effort, your whole student body can overwhelm your cafeteria staff with compassion and gratitude!

45. Host a senior breakfast.

In the last week of school, host a senior breakfast to celebrate their graduation and give them a positive send-off. Be sure to offer decaf coffee—they’re already stoked enough!

46. Organize a virtual tutoring program.

Recruit classmates who are willing to tutor other students. Create a schedule and share it with families and students, so they can drop in and get help on a variety of subjects.

47. Organize a week of respect.

A high school week of respect activity.

Promote a respectful learning environment in your school by organizing a Week of Respect. At Shadow Ridge High School in Las Vegas, NV, their Week of Respect consisted of “Celebrate Diversity Day” for sharing cultural celebrations and traditions, “Respect Yourself Day” for posting about something that makes you happy, “Respect Each Other Day” for sharing their contributions to the community, “Respect Your School Day” where students were encouraged to wear school colors, and “Blue Out Day” when student leaders prompted online discussions about how to defeat online negativity and promoted anti-bullying efforts.

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48. Start a mentoring program.

Pair older students with younger ones for the duration of the year. “Buddies” can invite each other to lunch (on specially designated days), write notes (monitored), and team up on field day competitions. Near-peer mentoring, with students just a grade or two apart, can be a big benefit for both students.

49. Give out honorary school diplomas.

Advocate to begin an honorary school diploma program, recognizing people in the community—living or historical—who have made outstanding contributions to the school or have noteworthy achievements that align with your school values. A student council can help to organize the program with support from administration and serve on the selection committee, nominating awardees and writing the citations.

50. Do an end-of-year graduation walk.


grad-walk

Graduating high school seniors walk the halls in their caps and gowns to inspire younger students to go the distance. Read this article from ABC News.

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