The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders

Igniting the power: Spirit Stick involved in new ritual

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Dakahla Holiday (12) leads the color guard at the UIL competition on Tuesday. The marching band received all superior rankings.

“The stick can tell if you don’t commit,” High School Vice Principal Kris Waugh said.

The spirit stick, which was created in 2007, the year the school opened, has been awarded to the senior class every year beginning with the Class of 2013. Brought out at every homecoming pep rally, the stick spends the remainder of the year in a box that sits outside Waugh’s office.

“It stays in the spirit stick box if it’s not being used because it [the box] is lined with spirit stick lining that keeps the spirit in the stick,” Waugh said.

Historically, aside from being brought out periodically throughout the year, the competition over the stick at the annual pep rally has been the extent of the its use. However, this Monday, October 19th, Waugh introduced a new ritual involving the stick.

This week was rich with important events. On Tuesday, the high school marching band competed at the UIL band competition, and the high school volleyball team played Bastrop at home. Wednesday was the seventh grade volleyball city championship game against Gorzycki, and today the high school volleyball team plays Cedar Creek, one of the two teams currently tied with Ann Richards for second place in the district championship. Finally, this Monday, October 26, the varsity cross country team will race at the regional competition in San Antonio.

In preparation for this series of events, Waugh introduced the new ritual, the “passing of the spirit stick” at all-school assembly on Tuesday.

In order to “activate the powers” of the stick, each member of whichever team or group will be competing that day is required to hold the stick, elbows out, for three minutes. Once her time is up, she is required to pass the stick to the next member, both members bowing their head low for the pass-off.

According to Waugh, she found a “box that gave the instructions to the spirit stick rituals….it was just there [in the courtyard].”

Waugh’s ritual was partially put into practice this week–on Tuesday, prior to their competition, every member of the marching band, including director Stephen Howard, held the stick. The band received three superior rankings for their performance at UIL, which is the highest possible set of scores.

The members of the high school volleyball team, however, according to head Coach Maura Cosgrove, did not hold the stick on Tuesday. While the JV team beat Bastrop, the varsity team lost to Bastrop in three games.

Meanwhile, the seventh grade volleyball team passed the spirit stick through every member on Wednesday, each holding the stick upright for three minutes. The seventh grade A Team beat Gorzycki that afternoon, making them the city champions.

“When they started to lose,” Waugh said of the seventh grade game, “Coach Brown brought it to the huddle. That’s the importance of the spirit stick. The charge was then ignited, and we won that game.”

Brown verified the use of the spirit stick during a timeout huddle at the game against Gorzycki on Wednesday.

“I was at the seventh grade volleyball game, on the bench, minding my own business, when a student comes up to me and says, ‘Coach Brown, Ms. Waugh wants you to have the spirit stick,’” Brown said. “So I just had to hold it, then shake it, then bless the seventh graders with it.”

Because of this pattern, Waugh says she believes that the power of the stick will determine whether the high school volleyball team wins or loses to Cedar Creek this evening.

According to Cosgrove, there have been detailed plans laid out in order to ensure that every member of the varsity team holds the stick according to ritual practice. At noon today, the stick began its journey through the hands of the fourteen person team.

Waugh has also arranged that Brown hold the stick on the bench for the duration of the varsity set this evening.

“Coach Brown will have it again tonight, and then we’re putting it in the container,” Waugh said.

On Sunday, Brianne Welser, cross country assistant coach, has plans to obtain the stick. The stick will then be passed through the seven-person cross country team in time for their race on Monday.

According to Waugh, the powers of the stick will either be confirmed or denied this evening when the results of the volleyball game are determined.

While some are skeptical of the powers of the spirit stick, many have become believers.

“Coach Brown had it the entire time throughout the [seventh grade volleyball] match and she never put it down,” Waugh said. “So that is why they won.”

Gus Dexheimer's favorite things are people and butter. She’s also a fan of puns, long distance running, power tools, realistic fiction, pastries, new places, old photographs, and good conversation. This is her third year on the APP, and her second year as Editor In-Chief. Gus can’t wait to continue exploring and investigating the people and the world around her via The Polaris Press. In her "spare time," Gus runs varsity cross country, works at a bakery/restaurant, and does a lot of talking. She lives by one of her late grandfather’s many unofficial mottos: things change.

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