Students streamed in through the crowded doorway.
I found myself wondering why Fridays were so special.
It seemed like everybody else was thinking the same thing. No one ever seemed to care much about them.
Coming into ETHS, one Friday tradition always stood out: the Friday Song. After hearing about it from older siblings and friends as middle-schoolers, we had become rightfully excited at the prospect of music playing over the PA system at the end of each week. However, upon becoming Wildkits, the general lack of interest surrounding the Friday Song left us disappointed. An opportunity to increase school spirit, instill a sense of belonging and just generally have fun, the Friday Song has fallen short of its potential for most of the last 29 years it has been a tradition. If ETHS is to allow this occasion to be the festivity that it is meant to be, then the school should let students vote on the song that is played.
“I think [the Friday Song] is a cool concept, and I know most people generally agree,” says sophomore Zach Rubinic. Though, he added, “I’m mostly indifferent—I’m not in love with it but I definitely don’t hate it.”
Words like “indifferent” should not describe the way students feel towards school traditions like the Friday Song. Moreover, what’s so unfortunate about this is how abundant these types of feelings are. Whenever the song plays, the hallways rarely light up with energy. Some students even actively grunt in response to it playing. These types of reactions must mean that there is something the tradition is lacking.
As the Evanstonian has previously covered, ETHS has a school spirit problem. Many students just do not see the appeal of pajama days, pep rallies or school formals like they have in the past. After school went remote last March though, spirit has become something that seems a lot more special.
According to NBC, Generation Z was already the loneliest generation pre-COVID-19. As feelings of loneliness have shot up even further during the pandemic, people’s reservations about expressing themselves and doing things because they are fun, even if they might be a tad embarrassing—like dancing in the hallways during the Friday Song—have wilted. That is what people dream of doing again.
ETHS is at a crossroads. Whenever we return fully in-person, students will either fall back into old patterns of boredom or develop a new sense of school spirit and pride. If this is desired, then administrators must listen to student voices so that it can be created.
“It’d be cool if somewhere towards the end of the year, freshmen, sophomores and juniors voted on the Friday Song for next year,” Rubinic opined.
If we look at the years the last four Friday songs were released—1994, 1985, 2001, 1992—we can see that they are not recent and were never at their peak popularity during times that students could remember. Because of this, it’s unlikely that these songs would actually be well-known or enjoyed by our student body. Allowing students to vote on the Friday Song would provide an easy way to fix this.
In society as a whole, it’s no coincidence that songs like “Y.M.C.A.” and “Don’t Stop Believin’” are played at events like campaign rallies or professional sporting matches. They are played because they cater to as many people as possible. This is a role the Friday Song should fulfill.
Perhaps the best example of a Friday Song, “Country Road” by Toots and The Maytals, a cover of John Denver’s 1971 classic, “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” serves this purpose well.
If the Friday Song were to be voted on, it is almost certain that the student body would pick a well-loved song like “Country Road.” This would make the Friday Song something more students could look forward to each week.
Since the Friday Song is already selected from a predetermined list, it wouldn’t be hard to change the system and make the song something that is voted on. All administrators would have to do is narrow down the list to a smaller pool, put those songs on a ballot and hold an election. Seeing as there is already an ETHS Student Representative election held each spring, it’s really just a matter of adding another question to that ballot.
Students crowd the building. It is the end of the first fully in-person week back. The bell rings.
It’s the Friday Song! They rush out of their classrooms and into the hallways, smiles on everyone’s faces. It hasn’t been like this in a long time, and it shouldn’t ever be any other way again.