NEWMAN - A group of student leaders are working to boost school spirit and culture at Orestimba High.
The leadership class spans all grade levels and diverse interests but its members share a common goal of promoting spirit and involvement while encouraging all students to make the most of their high school years.
Leadership students proudly wear the purple and gold of the Warriors as they make the rounds of OHS classrooms each Friday afternoon on a “spirit patrol” to bestow treats to other students wearing the Warrior colors.
“We can lead by example,” said student Melony Garcia. “When we dress up and do spirit patrol, it encourages a lot of students to do the same.”
That’s just one of the many activities in which the class is involved, as the group is planning events that will range from a powder puff football game and rallies to homecoming festivities and a holiday parade.
A common thread interwoven in all the activities is the goal of encouraging student involvement.
“We just want to get more students involved,” said Garcia. “We want everybody to enjoy their high school experience.”
“We want them to have a voice,” added fellow leadership student Lanai Torres.
The students acknowledge that their message does not always fall on receptive ears, and said that as Orestimba has grown to become a school approaching 1,000 students their mission has become more challenging.
“The bigger the school the more you have kids against (being involved in spirit-building activities),” said Parker Sharpe.
“Or they slip through the cracks,” added Doreen Dyt. “You hope that you reach the right students, who can reach other students.”
The group is utilizing social media more extensively this year to spread the word about special events and activities.
But even that can be double-edged, Garcia pointed out.
“Social media is the same tool that others can use to discourage (involvement),” she noted.
Still, the students said they see signs that they are making headway.
“We have had improvement from last year to this year. Even from the first week of school to the second week there are more kids participating and wearing spirit wear,” said Riley Marroquin.
Purple attire is favored on Fridays at schools across the district.
Marroquin said that changing all school colors to Orestimba’s purple and gold a few years ago has helped promote Warrior culture and build excitement among younger students about going to high school.
The leadership class is now in its sixth year, Chance said, said, and is among the groups which carry forward the mission of a prior initiative spearheaded by fellow teacher Renee Stearns to boost school spirit on campus and in the community.
This year, though, the class has a new format.
This year, said teacher Renae Chance, half the class is made up of elected Student Council members. The remaining students were selected via an application process.
There is no hierarchy in the decision-making process, as each student has equal input.
“You have some of the strongest personalities on our campus, so there is going to be conflict,” said Chance. “But part of learning leadership is compromise and doing what is best for our school.”
Principal Justin Pruett said the leadership students are an integral part of the campus community.
Pruett said he often runs ideas for changes on campus past the leadership students and values their feedback.
“The best part of the leadership class is that it gives a student voice to changes being made at Orestimba High School,” he commented.
Sophomore Julian Perez is among leadership students.
Perez said he got involved after starting to see school spirit falter. Perez said he envisions the day when, for example, Friday night football games in Warrior Stadium are an event that no student wants to miss.
He believes the leadership students can make a positive difference.
“With all the personality and talent and spirit that we have in this room, I feel like we can turn this around,” Perez concluded.