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Embracing school spirit

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Imagine a football game, but instead of the usual chanting, cheering and movement, all you hear is the grunts of the football team and coaches. Rather than wall-to-wall cheering fans, only empty bleachers flank the field. That surreal situation was a reality last year for schools across the nation. At St. Paul VI Catholic High School in Chantilly, students wanted to make sure that was not the reality this year. The school needed normal school spirit back.        

“Now that school is back, school spirit is more important than ever,” said Eli Trax, a senior on the football team.

Paul VI has stood apart with a great sense of community. Even with COVID-19 last year, the school held as many activities as possible, including music, arts, theater, athletics and clubs, all with various protocols. The community kept on supporting one another. This year, a full student section is allowed at games, and students are taking full advantage. 

The VI Man began to take form at Paul VI in 2002 when then-principal Phil Robey asked theology teacher Chris O’Brien to form a student section “that would create enthusiastic support for our teams and bring pride and recognition to the school and students,” said O’Brien, VI Man club moderator.

In 2004, students began wearing VI Man shirts to games and student leaders stood in the front of the student section to lead students in chants.

This year, the VI Man returns with a few changes. There is a VI Man Instagram account to spread the word about games and announce the night’s themes. So far, there has been a Hawaiian Night and a U.S.A. Night. Students display their creativity and school spirit by dressing in fun attire.

The VI Man also makes a point of going to different sporting events, not just football this fall. At the first home game for girls varsity volleyball, the VI Man brought a student section and the gym was filled with nonstop cheering and chanting. Not only did the volleyball team win, but they also felt more support than ever before.

“Seeing the VI Man and a packed student section at our game was so much fun,” said senior Anna Maresca. “They definitely brought the energy and hyped our team up.”

With a return to fully in-person learning, students have been thankful to have a more normal school year. Now that students are all together again, they have rededicated themselves to the school spirit. More than ever, Paul VI continues to be a community for growth, support and faith.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021