If the Sequoits go silent
October 11, 2021
Tradition never graduates: these words are engraved into the building that students see when they walk in every morning and one might catch glimpses of walking to class. When it was announced over the intercom, 18 months ago, there was supposed to be a two-week break and we would be back in time to finish the school year. Jump to present-day, half the school is experiencing their first ‘normal’ school year; One grade level has experienced just enough to barely make it through their first year of high school, and the seniors are stuck being the only ones who can remember what a normal year at Antioch Community High School looks like.
Traditions are something that make ACHS the passionate and close-knit community it is. When the future of those relies on seniors passing them on, the question of how important those routines were for the class of 2022 may signify which ones will see another year.
“As a student, you’re able to say this is a tradition we started. This is something we did and it caught on. I think that’s the neatest piece when you’re able to contribute to the school community, and it sticks, meaning it has lasting power,” Principal Eric Hamilton said.
For athletics especially, it is the job of seniors to pass those traditions down to the grade levels. For senior varsity volleyball captain, Annika Lindstrom, passing down those rituals was an important task the team made sure to put effort into.
“The traditions we have are pretty simple, but we also took the time to explain it to the new girls who haven’t gotten the chance to experience them before,” Lindstrom said.
Lindstrom also described how close the volleyball team is because of their traditions.
“I think the most important tradition we’ve been able to keep alive is our sister tradition where all the seniors have a group mixed with some juniors, sophomores and freshman, and are there to act as a big sister to those people,” Lindstrom said. “Or just an older girl that each person in the group knows they can talk to if they need anything.”
Senior and high brass section leader Sidney Tindell also noticed this in the marching band.
“In marching band, we’ve been able to keep the spirit stick alive, which is an award a section [wins] for having good marching for the day or having the most spirit and getting hyped up,” Tindell said. “As a high brass member, we normally get the spirit stick the second or third day of marching band week. That’s pretty good because most other sections can’t say that.”
Similar to the sister tradition in volleyball, Tindell described the importance of keeping the spirit stick alive beyond simple tradition.
“It’s not like the seniors in the high brass section just get the spirit stick,” Tindell said. “The whole section gets it because they all did something amazing together and all work together to get it. I think it brings us closer.”
Traditions like this are an example of what Hamilton reported as being a distinctive trait at ACHS.
“I think the school is unique in that a lot of the upperclassmen know the younger students,” Hamilton said. “I think [the] students do a nice job of incorporating everyone.”
The sense of togetherness may not just be from the community, but the potential for a greater understanding between classes is something Tindell found to be completely different from her time as a freshman to being her section’s leader.
“It’s way different now,” Tindell said. “Especially [before], being a freshman and looking at a senior who’s been doing marching band for three or four years, it makes you want to be better but also [makes you feel] like you aren’t that good. Now, I feel like the freshmen see me and they’re like ‘Oh, she’s kind of been doing this for two years'”.
Tindell did not notice just the change in relaxed composure from the freshman and sophomores, but also how they interacted with upperclassmen.
“I think they feel like they can talk to me more and now I talk to the freshman more because I’m also trying to relearn the same stuff,” Tindell said. “I feel like we broke that awkward year-older than me barrier and now we’re all just friends.”
Breaking the barrier between grade levels was an unexpected result of losing a year to COVID and something that relied on the underclassmen to trust their leaders. Hamilton commented on how well seniors went above and beyond their expectations so quickly into the year.
“The fact that [students] are back; The fact that you guys are here every day; The fact that you’re engaged,” Hamilton said. “Every kid in the school, and the seniors being a leadership group, have achieved far beyond what others have been able to do. What you guys have gone through this past year and a half, to see you on the other side, is amazing.”
However, despite everyone’s efforts, keeping traditions alive has been a challenge due to COVID-19. While seniors and upperclassmen are trying their best, some traditions are simply forgotten.
“We used to go to the section leaders’ house and have a barbeque [after sectionals]… but I totally forgot about it,” Tindell said. “I felt really bad because I know that the juniors and the sophomores might not carry that tradition because they’ve never done it.”
Despite the challenge of traditions being forgotten, seniors are still trying their best to maintain traditions; students have noticed the priority senior leaders have made for continuing tradition.
“I can see it with the football players,” Tindell said. “They still tell everyone to dress nice whenever it’s a home game.”
It is not only the seniors that can be relied on to continue the tradition. Despite their efforts to keep the spirit alive, if the juniors and underclassmen allow those experiences to graduate, the efforts could be for nothing. Lindstrom described how traditions, history and meaning are crucial.
We ultimately owe it to a lot of the alumni who started it, and when they were seniors, they continued these traditions and passed them along to us.”
— Annika Lindstrom
Luckily, Lindstrom seems to think tradition in both volleyball and ACHS have hopeful outlooks to continue.
“After this year’s 2022 seniors are gone, I believe the people who play again next year will be motivated to take initiative and keep these traditions alive throughout the program after seeing how it’s brought us together and built this program up, especially during the difficult times everyone has been going through,” Lindstrom said.
Furthermore, the underclassmen who are currently learning from the seniors are starting to create their own traditions. This creates hope that traditions will live on, even if they are not the ones who have stood the test of time.
“[The freshmen] suggested that we get GroupMe, and I was kind of against it because we’ve always just used Snapchat,” Tindell said. “But now, we [like GroupMe] and that closes that awkward age gap.”
Remembering and practicing old traditions is just one aspect that makes ACHS come alive. The excitement of being back contributes to this along with the confidence and leadership the class of 2022 has exhibited in the first month alone. The loss of some old traditions, while an unfortunate ramification, has allowed opportunity for new changes and traditions to be made.