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The student news site of Harwood Union Middle/High School in South Duxbury, Vermont

Common Ground

The student news site of Harwood Union Middle/High School in South Duxbury, Vermont

Common Ground

The Purpose of the Plaid: Raising the Spirit at Harwood

Photo Credit: Poppy Woods
Will Burks, 2023 Student Plaid, raising spirit on the sidelines of the soccer field.

The teacher plaid has been around for many years. The student plaid, an addition to the tradition, was created two years ago. But how much does Harwood really know about its plaid? And what does that tradition look like today?

In the school year of 2008-09, an English teacher named Sarah Page was approached by the building principal Duane Pierson with the idea of getting staff more involved with school spirit. Thus, Harwood plaid tradition was created, and has been changed throughout the years. This includes one of the plaids newest editions: the student plaid.

The new teacher and student plaid every year are both elected by the current plaids, based on their school spirit and positive energy. The new plaids are elected during one of the last assemblies of the school year. 

Many students view the student/teacher plaid as being a beneficial part of our community, and a good way to tie us together more. According to one student, “it boosts morale and spirit. And I think it’s just a fun thing for school.”

Aside from boosting school spirit, other students view the plaids as representatives of our community. One student says “it’s kind of like a mascot for us.”  Other students suggest the purpose of the plaid is “to encourage other students to be a part of the school.”

While many students claim the plaid is beneficial to our community in ways such as boosting morale, confusion exists, especially around the role of the teacher plaid. One student stated “I don’t really know what the teacher plaid does, but the student plaid does spirit for the whole school at sports things.”  Another stated,  “I don’t know how the teacher plaid gets elected, but the student plaid, you know, they’re appointed because they have a lot of spirit.” 

Multiple other students commented that they just simply “don’t know enough” about the student/teacher plaid tradition to answer. 

The student and teacher  plaids reflected on their responsibilities and experiences as plaids. 

The current student plaid, Will Burks, and also the 2nd-ever student plaid, summarizes his time as plaid saying, “Oh, it’s been pretty fun. You know, I like getting rowdy at games and getting all the students hyped up. There’s also just like respect to it as well. A lot of teachers respect me, which is pretty cool.”

Similarly, the first ever student plaid, Owen Duffy, echoed Burks’ sentiments, explaining his responsibility to “hype up the crowds…and make kids feel welcome at Harwood.” When asked to rate his experience on a scale of 1 to 10: “A hundred out of ten!”

Meanwhile, Wendy Rand, teacher plaid for the 2016-17 school year, said, “ I remember going to a lot of school sports games. You know, bringing [the plaid cape] to hockey games and soccer games. And then on Fridays, we’re supposed to wear it in a public place.” Wendy reflected: “it is good to have a leader to represent school spirit.”

Chelsea Turley, explained, “it was fun and it helped me to get energized. It was…a great experience for helping me to revive my own Harwood spirit, and to continue to help build spirit in the school. And I feel like it also was awesome that I was trying to do these acts of kindness towards others.”

Heidi Turgeon-Baird explains her experience as teacher plaid “was a wonderful way for me to direct my energy in a positive way to encourage students to participate in extracurricular or in-house type of events. Overall, it was a wonderful thing for me to think about sharing kindness with other people in an unprompted way.”

Andrew Reid’s plaid experience during the 2019-2020 school year looked a little different due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Reid shares, “the second half of the year we didn’t have a traditional spirit week where the plaid played a big role. So I tried to create short videos throughout that time where we’re teaching and learning from home to continue to spread the spirit, even though we weren’t in the building with each other.”

Despite some confusion about how plaids are selected and what they need to do, both students and teachers attest to the spirit of Harwood the plaids embody, and how they act to boost morale, togetherness, and kindness throughout the whole school. Although the student plaids have a shorter history at Harwood (only two have served), the position ties the tradition all together and helps to bridge the gap between students and the relevance of the tradition by bringing more spirit than ever to sports games and other Highlander events.

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