Competition, teamwork and trust

This article appears in the Notes from the Field feature series. View the full series.
The 2014-2015 AmeriCorps volunteers at Cristo Rey Boston High School dress to match each other on Clone Day during Spirit Week. (Provided photo)

Boston, Massachusetts — Notes from the Field includes reports from young women volunteering in ministries of Catholic sisters. A partnership with Catholic Volunteer Network, the project began in the summer of 2015 This is our third round of bloggers: Brenna Neimanis is a Good Shepherd Volunteer at a juvenile justice residential detention facility serving adolescent girls in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Kerry DiNardo is a Notre Dame Mission Volunteer AmeriCorps member serving at a Cristo Rey school in Boston.

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Spirit Week is the high point of the year for a lot of students at Cristo Rey Boston High School.

Spirit Week, which happens every April, is a weeklong competition among the grades. It is something the sophomores, juniors and seniors talk about all year leading up to the momentous week, and though the freshmen aren't truly aware of the nature of the competition, they quickly learn what high stakes the week brings.

There are many ways points can be acquired throughout the week. At 6:30 a.m. every day, the student life Twitter account posts instructions for a challenge that must be completed within the hour. This year, the students had to find hidden knights (our mascot) throughout the school, decorate the front fence, and write as many thank-you cards as they could to people in the building.

More chances to gain points happen throughout the day; for example, there are trivia questions in the students' first class of the day, and there are games played at lunchtime like candy-tosses and pie-eating contests. Additionally, each day had a different theme, including Fun in the Sun, where students could wear flip-flops and Hawaiian shirts.

The members of our faculty and staff got into the bobbing for apples competition. (Kerry DiNardo)

Some of the most intense competitions were the after-school sports. Each grade created teams for dodgeball, flag football and basketball, with the help of their grade's two captains. The teams were pretty evenly matched, and the most exciting game was when the teachers beat the seniors in basketball. I played in each of the games, and it's safe to say the faculty and staff are just as competitive as the students.

April 15, the final day of Spirit Week, started with a school assembly. Each grade made a presentation that represented them as a whole. One of the grades did a chant while the others had slideshows of photographs. The grades also revealed a flag they painted throughout the week that represented their spirit.

While the points from the entire week were being tallied, students got to eat pizza and chant for their respective classes. Around 11:30 a.m., the winner was announced.

The sophomores had been leading the scoreboard all week. However, because the most points were at stake Friday morning, it was truly anyone's game.

In the end, the teamwork and cohesion of the seniors allowed them to take the trophy. They won a laser-tag trip that took place June 6, during their Senior Week. This was a relaxed time for the class to come together and enjoy some fun.

The seniors' flag won the competition. (Kerry DiNardo)

More importantly, however, was the pride they earned of winning their last Spirit Week as the class of 2016. Many of them said it was their best memory in their four years at Cristo Rey.

It's fun to watch how pumped up the students get throughout Spirit Week. They throw themselves into the competitions, no matter how silly the events seemed to them when we were in the planning stages. This is a testament to how dedicated and loyal the students are to each other. Because all of the students want to win Spirit Week for their grade, they put their best efforts forth throughout the week. Their students are able to hype their peers up so much that those who aren't usually enthusiastic about school events rise to the challenge because they want to help their classmates succeed.

This teamwork lesson is one our students will carry with them long after they leave Cristo Rey. They have learned how to positively interact with and lead their peers and to represent themselves in a positive manner, all while competing against other grades.

Though the students are all in different grades, we are all one school, which is the point of Spirit Week: to celebrate what energy, unity and loyalty our school boasts.

[Kerry DiNardo is a Notre Dame Mission Volunteer AmeriCorps member in her second year of service at Cristo Rey Boston High School, where she works in the Student Life Office.]

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