Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
April 21, 2024
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COURTESY OF LANA SWINDLE

Swindle discusses how her relationship with school spirit has shifted since high school.

I have never been one for school spirit.

I loved my high school; I really did. I look back on it fondly, bad memories and all — friends, classes, romances, even those overblown moments of drama. But was I proud to be a Princeton High School student? Maybe. I never wore its merch, and the only sports game I ever went to was the homecoming football game. But even then, I’d go to see my band friends perform at the halftime show, not to support my school. 

To be fair, my high school didn’t have the ideal reputation for athletics during my time as a student (we hadn’t won a single homecoming game in several years, and certainly never one I attended). I enjoyed my high school and loved my friends and classes, but it was never properly a part of me. I never introduced myself as a PHS student to anyone.

I thought university was bound to be different, but even in fall semester I wasn’t thinking about school spirit. Instead, I was preoccupied with all the personal changes of starting college. Every time I noticed the Hopkins entrance in front of the Beach on my walk to Nolan’s or CharMar, I’d remind myself that I actually went here. I’d walk to class and stare at the Gilman clock tower, still somehow amazed that I was actually seeing it in three dimensions instead of its 2D counterpart on Google Images or Instagram. I felt like a high school student most days, a college student some and a Hopkins student on only the most special of occasions, if at all.

But the spring semester’s been a little different, somehow. A couple of weeks ago, I wore my first Hopkins sweater (yes, News-Letter themed, but it still counts). It was light blue and had “Johns Hopkins” on the front, and I liked the way it looked. When I walked down the street to get lunch at Nolan’s with my friend, I knew that a stranger walking by would see me and know I was a student. I’ve since started exploring a little more around here too — studying above ground, for one, not just in the comfortable, chilly silence of B-level — and starting to appreciate my school for more than just the little routine I’d established for myself last semester.

The biggest change was more recent, though — my first lacrosse game. I’d never been to a sports game where my team actually had a chance of winning, let alone a D-I game. I sat down with my friend in a sea of light and dark blue sweaters, flags, posters and hats. I’d never seen an audience so excited about a sports game, and I actually kind of loved it. I stood up and clapped when our team intercepted the ball or scored a goal. I sighed with the crowd when we didn’t. I was invested.

My friend invited me to see another just a week ago, and then there it was — my second lacrosse game at Hopkins. This one was particularly exciting — against Loyola — and the stands were packed. I’d never have imagined myself actually looking forward to sports games, but there I was with my friend in the crowd, staring intently at the goal and scoreboard just like everyone else, jumping up to see the game when the people in front of us stood up too. We won this time, 13-7. I was proud. I wore blue. 

I used to hear stories about school spirit and roll my eyes on impulse. I’d skip high school pep rallies whenever possible and only wear my merch as pajamas, if at all. It wasn’t important, I’d say. It was a community trying to mend its cracks with cheer and sports. But these last few weeks, I’ve realized that isn’t true. I’ve realized there’s something sort of wonderful about sitting with a bunch of shouting students wearing light blue and waving flags, in standing up and shouting with them. I’ve realized I want to go to the baseball game next week and maybe another lacrosse game after that. I’ve realized I’m proud to be a Hopkins student. 

Lana Swindle is a freshman from Princeton, N.J. majoring in Writing Seminars. Her column views her everyday experiences from a different perspective. She is a Copy Editor for The News-Letter.


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