Stuck in the Middle: Viking Cup Spirit Week
The last week before Spring Break at North Saanich is Spirit Week which culminates with the student versus teachers Viking Cup hockey game. This is the 26th annual Viking Cup. The philosophy behind this tradition is to provide a fun, community building activity to keep everyone positive for the last week of school before the holiday.
The hockey game is the highlight of Spirit Week and it includes some awesome traditions like the singing of the ‘Hockey Song’ by Stompin Tom Connors, a grade 8 pancake breakfast and the handing out of Spirit prizes. During the game, we continuously draw names of students who win small prizes that are provided by our PAC and community. Students get their name in the draw box by receiving Spirit tickets from NSMS staff members for demonstrating positive school behaviour during the week.
On Thursday there was a continuous march to the office of happy students waving spirit tickets to be dropped in the draw box followed by a ‘Go Hawks!’ It was fun and light and everyone seemed to be having a good time; that is until one young lady challenged my thinking. “I don’t feel right getting a spirit ticket for being nice to people. I think everyone should be nice and work hard all the time,” she told me. It was liked Pat Benatar had ‘Hit me with her best shot.’
I spent that evening getting my stick taped, laying out my number one clothes, packing my hockey bag, and wondering if giving out prizes at the Viking Cup was the best idea. I truly believe in teaching students to be intrinsically motivated and now a grade 8 student had challenged me to think about why we do what we do. This ‘real tough cookie with a long history of breaking little hearts like the one in me’ was making me reevaluate a school tradition. Are we bribing our students to be well behaved and focused during the last week before Spring Break?
The answer came to me as I skated out to centre ice following the game to hand out the Viking Cup and address the crowd. Four hundred middle school students, sat in the crowd talking and buzzing with excitement about being released for Spring Break. I took the mic and spoke out, “North Saanich can I have your attention in 3, 2 and.” Before I even got to 1, I noticed that the whole student body had gone silent and had focused their attention on me. That moment I realized why we give out the Spirit prizes.
At North Saanich Middle School the Viking Cup is a celebration of all the hard work and respectful behaviour that goes on every day at our school. The hockey game is about building positive relationships. And giving out Spirit tickets and prizes is just our way of thanking a great group of kids!
Enjoy your Spring Break and Go Hawks!