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The Viking Press

The Student News Site of The Village School

The Viking Press

The Student News Site of The Village School

The Viking Press

Community and Individualism: A lack of spirit in High School

The Viking Football team at their homecoming game. Picture taken by Viking Media.

Attending high school in the U.S. embodies the American dream. The pep rallies, cheerleaders, energized football games and magical prom, are the coming-of-age experiences often exaggerated in movies. Ultimately,the  reality is not as depicted in High School Musical, and American society’s values differ from those assumed. 

Hyper individualism is a current and well-known problem in the United States. “It is the belief that ‘the good society’ is one in which individuals are left free to pursue their private satisfactions independently of others,” wrote Claire Andre and Manuel Velasquez in their article “Creating the Good Society.” “[It is] a pattern of thinking that emphasizes individual achievement and self-fulfillment.” The Village School gives its students a glimpse of the American high school experience while maintaining the essence of an international school. So, where is the Viking spirit?

Community spirit is the sense of identity shared by members of an institution or group. Incentivized by coming-of-age experiences such as prom or homecoming, spirit and belonging is diminished by individualism engraved in American society. The Village School is sadly not the exception, students and staff do not lack ideas or execution of events for the community to enjoy, and the issue starts when the Vikings are nowhere to be found. “I’ve been in Village for a while now, and I think there was more school spirit in Middle school than there is now,” said senior Mell Bastos, a student who has been a Viking for 6 years and possesses an international background. “I’m from Brazil and I’ve lived in multiple countries that have a different culture and sense of community, and Village is just something different. I feel like we have the potential to have a unique school spirit, but students just don’t care, everyone is doing their own thing.” The individuality that makes the American culture distinctive appears to be a new part of the high school experience, a view of every person as a self-sufficient individual, everyone is their person, not a representative of a family, community, or any other group. 

On the other end of the spectrum is collectivism. In a collectivist approach, the focus shifts towards prioritizing the good of the society or community over the welfare of the individual. However, an exclusively collectivist stance might risk suppressing the uniqueness and individual contributions that make The Village School’s community so dynamic. 

The answer to the posed question lies in a delicate balance between the two extremes. It’s not about choosing individualism over collectivism or vice versa; it’s about embracing the coexistence of both concepts. The synergy between individuality and collective identity can form the foundation for a school spirit that appreciates diversity while embracing a shared sense of belonging. Individual accomplishments, cultural backgrounds, and aspirations can all be acknowledged and celebrated in collaboration with a shared dedication to the school community’s well-being. For individualism and collectivism to coexist peacefully and inspire students to embrace their individuality while actively engaging in the school’s community spirit, an understanding of how they can enhance one another is necessary. This not only applies to nearby communities like The Village School or Houston, it can be seen in the real world, where collective and individual mindsets can be seen in trouble with each other from time to time. As found deep within our culture, both individualism and collectivism can be a very complicated construct when applied to a bigger picture. For instance, western countries are prone to be more individualistic taking the U.S. or Australia as an example, while African countries such as Kenya or Nigeria tend to be more collectivist, relying on their tribes, like Yoruba or Samburu where group loyalty is encouraged. These two mindsets can be seen not only in our culture but also as the influence upon which laws and other forms of public policies are built.  

The coexistence of individualism and collectivism can be the starting point where the Viking spirit is resurrected. Rather than viewing these concepts as conflicting, something that unites us could emerge, creating a school spirit that appreciates diversity and cares for a shared sense of belonging. The challenge is not to choose one over the other but to embrace interdependence, individual accomplishments, cultural backgrounds and personal aspirations, which should be celebrated jointly with a collective dedication to the well-being of the school community. The path to rediscovering the Viking spirit lies in acknowledging that each student is not just an independent entity but also a representative of a larger tapestry – a family, a community, a school. For individualism and collectivism to coexist harmoniously, embracing and slowly cultivating an environment that allows students to embrace their uniqueness while actively participating in the school’s collective spirit is of prime importance. It needs a shift in perspective, encouraging students to see their individuality as a strength that enriches the collective experience rather than a force that fragments it.

In this delicate dance between the self and the community, The Village School has the opportunity to redefine its identity. The Viking spirit can be rekindled by cultivating an environment that encourages students to explore their individuality while understanding that their journeys are intertwined with the greater narrative of the school’s legacy.

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About the Contributor
Marlen Gomez
Marlen Gomez, Writer
Marlen Gomez is a senior serving her first year as a writer for The Viking Press. As Vice-President of The Feminism Club and Speech and Debate team, Mar is passionate about philosophy, psychology, politics, fashion, and poetry, with an interest in Latino activism and History. Driven by her cultural background and desire for social justice, Mar joined the Viking Press to spread awareness about neglected topics and is looking forward to sharing them with you. In her free time, she loves going on walks with her dog, reading amazing books, playing video games, and talking about the Star Wars saga. 

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