Spirit Week and Homecoming festivities moved in accommodation of Jewish holiday


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Navid Maghami (Sr.), Alex Djokovich (Sr.) and Ashley Chandler (Sr.) unload construction materials for next week’s Spirit Night (Wednesday, September 27) with fellow council members. (Courtesy of Alexis-Brooke LoBianco)

Staff Writer

The UHS administration has rescheduled this year’s Spirit Week, Homecoming game and Homecoming dance in accommodation of the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur.

Spirit Week has been moved to the week of September 25, which is one week earlier than last year, while Spirit Night and Homecoming game has been moved from the accustomed Thursday and Friday night to the night of Wednesday, September 27 and Thursday, September 28 respectively. Unlike past years, the Homecoming dance will take place one week later on October 7, which is a Saturday.

“It really put us in an awkward position [because] we are having the game on a Thursday night, and it’s [a] home [game], so there really is no reason why it couldn’t be on a Friday night except for this holiday,” Assistant Principal Matthew Pate (Admin.) said. “[But] we wanted to honor [students’ religious obligations].”

If the scheduling change had not occurred, the Homecoming game and dance would have conflicted with Yom Kippur, which lasts from sundown on Friday, September 29th, to sundown on Saturday, September 30th.

“[Yom Kippur] is one of the most important holidays of the year,” Jewish Student Union President Hannah Ruhm (Jr.) said. “Most Jews miss school for this holiday [which] shows how important it is to our religion.”

Despite the change in schedule, the administration wanted to uphold their policy of respecting any religious obligations students have.

“We just want to make sure that we’re honoring and respecting the religious diversity of our campus,” Pate said.

The Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) excuses students from school in acknowledgement of the numerous religious holidays observed by the diverse student population.

“If there is a holiday that we see a lot of students calling in for religious purposes, we’re aware of it, so everyone’s on the same page with why we allow students to miss school for these purposes,” Pate said.

The rescheduling of Spirit Week has posed several challenges for the student class councils in their preparation for Spirit Night. For the junior class council, this made longer workhouses an important commitment.  

“Trying to get [the junior council] into the mindset that [Spirit Night] is one week earlier has been very difficult,” Junior Class President Katie Rachels (Jr.) said. “It seems like such a short amount of time, but it’s actually so much time between that week.”  

For the sophomore class council, losing a week of preparation time was much better than only having four weeks to prepare in their freshman year. The sophomore council “hammered” each other for better communication “by limiting the amount of people” working on a structure, mural or dance committee.

“[Council members and volunteers] were able to choose [for their construction team those] who were inside their own friend groups through an individual survey which helped them be eager with their projects,” Sophomore Class President Sedong Hwang (So.) said.

The senior class council, having planned well in advance before the school year even began, was able to adapt quickly to the change.  

“The senior class vice presidents, Alex Djokovich (Sr.) and Eugene Rhee (Sr.), and I were all on top of getting our measurements of the 300s done back in June and getting mural layouts put together by the last week of July,” Senior Class President Alexis-Brooke LoBianco (Sr.) said.

The newly elected freshman council is being assisted by the upperclassmen in gathering materials, building their structures and choreographing their council dance before the start of Spirit Week. 

“It’s been really cool because everyone’s been super supportive of us,” Freshman Class Vice President Sydney Field (Fr.) said. “It’s harder for us because we don’t really know how Spirit Night really works and everything yet.” 

Despite not having as much time to prepare this year, the class councils remain optimistic for Spirit Night.

“I absolutely love the people I get to work with and I am so glad they were so open to all of us being more of a team this year,” LoBianco said. “I can’t wait to see how everyone’s displays turn out.”

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