Growing Up In The Hub City: High School Pep Rallies
Aug 30, 2017 09:53AM ● Published by Elizabeth Hesterly
Fridays in football season loomed before us at the beginning of every school week. Every Monday seemed more tolerable because a Friday existed just a few days away in the distance, calling us towards a competitive spirit and a compelling reason to get through the week. My friends and I were among 2,000 students in our school population, and we took our football team to heart. We jockeyed for attention from the players themselves, we purchased spirit ribbons to pin to our shirts and jackets, and we fought for the Spirit Stick as though it held magical powers.
Welcome to high school in the Seventies, a place where bell bottoms and platform shoes danced through hallways, a universe where our football team reigned royally, a world all its own, right there in Scott. High school football was king.
With classes suspended so we could gather in one place to demonstrate our school spirit, my comrades and I entered our weekly pep rally. We packed into the boys’ gym, hot and stuffy and not air conditioned, and we screamed and yelled and cheered maniacally. We exhibited school spirit in its purest form --- we shouted approval for our team, hailing them as warriors returning from Troy. We adored them. We heaped praise upon them. They were our heroes.
Each classification, segregated in the bleachers, stood as one living organism as cheerleaders performed and football players strutted across the basketball court. Often they sat in folding chairs as we tried to glimpse our favorites from our perches. Sometimes they performed skits. There were speeches. People received awards. Cheerleaders made the players ride tricycles, do cartwheels, and dance like Elvis.
By the time we were seniors, we had just about seen it all. Having decided that the pep rally needed to be spiced up a bit, a group of my friends decided to introduce a new idea, something that might be memorable, something that might make the pep rally extra special. We were playing Lafayette High, our arch rival, and we thought the event should be marked by a spectacular gesture. So, we decided to go into the country (just down the road from Acadiana, actually) in search of a pig. One of us knew a family who had many to choose from, and it seemed quite appealing.
We met to discuss strategy Thursday after school. Would it be considered stealing? Absolutely not! We were just going to borrow the pig. It would be safely returned. After we had successfully captured it, held it overnight, lathered it with grease, and let it go during the pep rally, we would take the pig back to its pen. We could barely contain our excitement. It was going to be the most memorable pep rally ever.
But something went wrong. The pig farm wasn’t where it was supposed to be. We drove into the dark with twists and turns and all kinds of perilous vehicular movement. But we couldn’t find a single pig. And thus our magnificent idea crumbled. The pep rally the next day was just the same old thing.
In the end it didn’t matter. We still laugh like hyenas when we’re all together. We think of the time we went searching for a pig. We do not admit defeat. After all, it was one mighty fine idea. And in our high school lore, it truly was the finest pep rally ever.
Elizabeth O'Roark Hesterly was born and raised in Lafayette. She is a graduate of Acadiana High School and LSU, is too serious for her own good, admires loyalty and faithfulness, and strives for both.
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