When the awarding of the Spirit Bell was canceled last year, students didn’t take much notice. A mask mandate was in effect across the district, and attendance for the Service Bowl football game was limited due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. But this year, the decision has been made to suspend the awarding of the bell entirely, which is leading to mixed reactions from students. “I know many other people are going to be upset because we got rid of the Bell. Watching other students get upset about it made me get upset about the whole situation. It is just something we can’t control. I don’t think we need the spirit bell to have school spirit,” says Michael Gill, the Student Body Activities Coordinator.
On September first, administrators, athletic directors, and student council advisors from Canyon Ridge and Twin Falls High School met to discuss the fate of the bell. It was decided that abandoning it was the best option. “I’m on board [with the decision] in the name of Covid to help limit some contact,” says Dr. Teske. “Students weren’t represented very well, so going forward that needs to happen and we will make the best of it this year.”
The Covid-19 pandemic isn’t the only reason contributing to abandoning the bell. Canyon Ridge Athletic Director, Sean Impomeni, explains that there will be an increased focus on the players and service members instead of the school rivalry and spirit. Ryan Nesmith, the principal at Twin Falls High School agrees, “I think that the Service Bowl should be about two things: making sure that we show appreciation and recognize our service people while playing a competitive football game.” He furthers this by commenting, “I hope that as a committee, we can help our students realize that we are more than just this one game. We compete all year with each other through multiple activities, that is true. But there are so many other teams and competitions, why create such hype for this one game? I believe that it takes away from our sportsmanship and camaraderie as one school district when we do this.”
The Canyon Ridge football players seem to be unphased by the decision. “I honestly had no idea that they weren’t doing the bell this year,” says Wyatt Sommers, a senior and captain of the football team. “It won’t affect me, I’m just going to play how I always play with as much effort as I can give.” Canyon Ridge senior, Carson Sainsbury agrees, “When I first heard the news, I was very disappointed and upset…the competition with Twin is about a lot more than just the football game though, the service bowl needs to be more oriented towards our service members. When I heard the plans to make it a yearlong competition, I became more excited. Even though it’s a bit sad about the bell, I know the future is in good hands.”
With the discontinuation of the Spirit Bell at the Service Bowl, administrators and athletic departments from both schools are working on a new competition. “The bell is just being postponed this year. The end goal is to increase student participation throughout the school year and have more of a turnout every time one of our sports plays Twin Falls. The new plan is for the advisors and athletic directors to create a rubric that is based around a yearlong spirit competition. That way, you can see over time who has the most spirit,” says Ella Oberg, the student body president. Carrie Ploss, the student council advisor at Twin Falls High School, also sees this as an opportunity for change, “I like the idea of changing the format of the Spirit Bell. The original intent was to increase student participation in a game that was to support the current and former Military Members, Service Members, and 1st Responders in our community. The emphasis was to be on Service Personnel and not the individual student sections of the two different schools.”
Under the new plan, both schools are hopeful that student participation will increase and the cross-town rivalry will become healthier. Without the Spirit Bell being the central focus of the Service Bowl, the game can return to its originally intended purpose of focusing on our community and its service members.