The stands are packed with students, lost in a sea of school colors, streamers, signs, and horns. The incredibly deafening noise bounces off the walls and echoes throughout the building as both students and staff cheer on team captains, teachers, and the cheerleading teams. The scene screams pep rally and every element of the event exudes community and tradition.
While some say pep rallies are a waste of time that should be spent learning, the spirit ignited at rallies unites the student body and proves invaluable to the high school experience.
I attend Richard Montgomery High School, a community that values its traditions but also readily shifts to accommodate change. Our diversity and both academic and extracurricular achievements account for much of our pride, all of which is represented at our pep rallies.
At RM, and many other schools in the county, the captains of the upcoming sports season are introduced, talented cheer and pom squads perform, and the BOMS squad, or boy poms, provide entertaining comedic relief. “[Pep rallies] bring the student body together and give off a general sense of community among the students,” Quince Orchard freshman Aniko Alexander said. “When the classes are cheering together it’s very spirited and people feel a sense of belonging.”
Every winter pep rally at RM, a group of teachers choreograph and perform a dance. This year, “Fergalicious” was among the chosen medley of songs and the teachers Nae Nae’d and even “Hit the Quan”.
“It’s really nice that the teachers are willing to do the dance,” commented Keira DiGaetano, a sophomore at Richard Montgomery. “It shows that they aren’t just here for the job. You know they care.” When teachers volunteer to look ridiculous in front of the entire student body, relationships between staff and students strengthen, reinforcing a sense of community and ultimately improving the learning environment. Teachers are no longer intimidating but approachable, especially after witnessing them Nae Nae.
RM’s traditional values have been embodied by Mr. Fahrner, who was only three years old when he first stepped onto RM’s basketball court “That was my first introduction to black and gold,” said Mr. Fahrner. “I couldn’t wait to wear the shiny uniforms of the basketball players, who were my heros.” After graduating from RM and marrying the track coach, Mr. Fahrner taught all over the county before finally returning to coach tennis, teach gym, and work alongside his daughter in the main office.
The Fahrners are a fixture at pep rallies, representing tradition and history. “It started with the black and gold and it will end with the black and gold,” he stated.
“Mr. Fahrner being here is such a tradition,” said Richard Montgomery sophomore Josh Fishman. “It’s so much fun to see him come back after these many years and he still gets to be a rocket.” Every rally, Mr. Fahrner is handed the microphone and the entire gym is drowned in cheers before he speaks a word. “Everyone being in those stands and everyone wearing black and gold and goofing off with Fahrner- it’s the greatest,” continued Fishman. “Everyone’s shoulder to shoulder, no one can fit, everyone going absolutely crazy.” After the noise subsides, Mr. Fahrner leads a cheer, his favorite being the “Mighty Rockets.”
“People want to be involved with something at Richard Montgomery because of our school spirit which is ignited at pep rallies,” remarked Mr. Fahrner. “Our pep rallies ignite a flame in the school that the teachers and the coaches and the students carry out throughout the seasons.” The importance of school spirit is commonly overlooked. While I look forward to the school day, I am more motivated to become involved in the community, and I am more involved in extracurricular activities because I love representing Richard Montgomery. My commitment to the school goes beyond my education- the community and experiences are irreplaceable. “The saddest situation is when a kid never got involved in anything, including the pep rallies, never got the passion ignited,” said Mr. Fahrner. “School spirit is about passion. And you need it.”
Pep rallies are also a great way to unify different student groups inside the school. At a school like RM, where there is a diverse student body, pep rallies do a great deal in bringing these students together. “Isn’t it nice that all of our diversity cheers for one thing at one time? At that pep rally we are together,” Mr. Fahrner continued. “We are black and gold. We are rockets. And that’s why I always say you’ll be a rocket forever. Once you fall in love with the school and the history, traditions, and get passionate about it you will remember this for the rest of your life. The passion you just don’t forget. I always will have that passion.”
Mr. Fahrner’s cheer, and the students’ enthusiastic participation, embodies the importance of pep rallies. “When can we ever do something together? We can in that moment in time. We can do something together that’s loud, that’s fun, that’s meaningful,” Mr. Fahrner elaborates. When he cheers, Mr. Fahrner always raises his hand in a fist. “That fist is united. It’s diversity united [which] is power.” At every school, pep rallies bring the student body together by celebrating a unifying factorf- their school spirit.
While pep rallies do not have a lesson plan and shift the day’s schedule, these events are worth the inconvenience. The entire student body laughs, cheers, and screams together for one single cause. “It makes people feel like they’re a part of something,” continued Alexander, who has endless enthusiasm and loyalty to Quince Orchard’s Red Army. “People don’t always feel like they belong in their school, and that leads to them feeling alone and isolated. Having a sense of community can make people feel like they’re not alone.”
Pep rallies not only represents tradition, but belonging. After sixty years, Richard Montgomery still has a place for Mr. Fahrner. “We start the fire at pep rallies,” Mr. Fahrner finished. “It’s just a moment. But it’s a moment when we are one.”
Article by MoCo Student staff writer Isabella Levine of Richard Montgomery High School