Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Changing Content Of American High School Pep Rallies

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides comments about and seven video examples of contemporary pep rallies at majority African American or integrated (African American and other races/ethnicities) high schools.

The content of this post is provided for cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

Thanks to all those who are featured in these videos. Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post, and thanks to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.

During the early to mid 1960s when I attended high school in Atlantic City, New Jersey, I remember pep rallies being held in my high auditorium after-school the day before a big football game. Standing on stage, one by one the football team would be introduced to students while the band played some uptempo chords. Then the cheerleaders would lead the students in some "Go team go! and "Go, fight, win!" type cheers, and the pep rally would end with the coach or the principal encouraging students to attend the game.

My recollections of pep rallies are quite different from the YouTube videos of pep rallies that I've watched this week. In those videos, contemporary high school pep rallies were held in the gymnasium and includes elaborate, staged productions that often include choreographed performances by Hip-Hop dance teams, cheerleaders, step teams, etc, lightly competitive Hip Hop "dance offs" (competitions), and comedic sports competitions between members of the athletic team and/or representatives of the freshmen, sophomore, junior, and senior classes, and/or teachers. At these events, bands still played and cheerleaders still led the audience in cheers, But it seems to me that the emphasis is on the audience being entertained at a structured program or being a part of that structured program much more than bolstering school spirit and encouraging attendance at an upcoming game. Then again, all those structured activities may be the best way nowadays of helping to develop and reinforce school pride and school spirit. provides this explanation of the term "pep rallies":
"Pep rallies is a gathering of people, typically students of middle school, high school, and college age, before a sports event. The purpose of such a gathering is to encourage school spirit and to support members of the team for which the rally is being thrown. The pep rallies are often very loud and have a lot of excitation to keep all the students excited for the upcoming game and to cheer on the team.

At a pep rally, cheerleaders will often lead in boisterous chants and dance moves intended to get the student body involved and supporting the school's team. Games between competing classes with small prizes may be held. The school's band will often play upbeat music in between demonstrations, and the drumline may play…
This page also features a photograph of a large group of people at a pep rally. The photograph has this caption:
“A group of students cheering and clapping at their high school pep assembly.”

These examples are given in chronological order according to their publishing dates on YouTube with the oldest dated example given first.

The comments are given in chronological order, except for responses. However, they may not be in consecutive order.

Example #1: Thornwood Pep Rally 2013

Cyrhon Taylor, Published on Oct 5, 2013

via YouTube Capture

Example #2: Prosper Rumble: The Best Pep Rally Ever [Texas]

EagleProductionGroup, Published on Oct 10, 2013

Prosper High School comes together in a whole new way. This demonstration of school spirit brings Eagle Pride to new levels.
selected comments from this video's discussion thread
Mark Miller
"wow, corny as this is, It would've been fun to go to a school like this. Most teens when I was growing up were too cynical to buy into something like this, and even if they weren't the faculty at my school was too buttoned up to even let something like this happen. Anyone that is hating is just jealous."

Kelline Pickett
"Love that school pride!!!

"yeah im glad i was apart of this pep rally but to bad we lost the game :("

Millie Love
"Even if they're not that good at sports, its awesome to have school spirit! In my old town it used to be like this and we were happy for our team no matter what the results!"**

Dee Dee Lear
"Thats Texas Football Spriit! Awesome production and participation by the entire school! AAAAMMAAZZIINNNGGG! The big 5A's have nothing on you all! You should be so proud!"

"People try to knock on the school (PHS) for whatever it is they think is "wrong" with it, whether that be too strict of rules, dress code, whatever. What they miss ,out of their negativity, is the amazing things that Mr. Wright affords to our high school (PHS). Prosper Rumble was truly special and is to be even better ("Wink Wink Nudge Nudge") in the future.
Be thankful for what you get, and to enjoy the little things :)"

Example #3: Skyline High School Pep Rally! [California]

Skyline High, Published on Oct 6, 2014
Our pep rally was turnt! ✨ thanks for coming out titans!
"turnt [up] or "turned out" = hyped, exceptional
selected comments from this video's discussion thread
"Haha isn't this school in Dallas? Texas schools have the BEST pep rallies!!"

"This is actually in California :)"
Notice that the majorettes who performed with the marching band don't twirl batons. Instead they do Hip Hop majorette dance step.

Example #4: Craziest High School Pep Rally *Hendersonville High School*

Phillip Colling, Published on Sep 7, 2015

2015 Homecoming Pep pigs, school-wide moshpits and principal biting the head off a raven?! (raven was fake, calm down)

Example #5: "Hit the Quan" Hip Hop on High School Pep Rally 2k15

IanNascar48, Published on Oct 2, 2015

I created this video with the YouTube Video Editor (

My local high school's Hip Hop club were doing "The Quan" dance during the pep rally and they did good, so please watch your step to watch this video!
Here's a comment from that video's discussion thread:
Jacob Tube, 2015
"At my school's pep rally everyone was doing the whip! It was also way bigger than this."

Example #6: BHS Cheer Pep Rally Dance Off [Florida]

SOTAGIRL79, Published on Oct 2, 2015

Booker High School, Sarasota FL
Homecoming Pep Rally 10/2/15
Cheerleader Dance Off Routine
Here's a comment from this video's discussion thread:
Fleta Benjamin, 2015
"go Tornadoes Go"

Example #7: Cathedral Dance Team Homecoming Pep Rally

Frank Mackell, Published on Oct 9, 2015

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1 comment:

  1. I started watching videos of American pep rallies because the boisterous cheering aspect of what I now consider to be "old school" pep rallies and of "new school" pep rallies seemed similar to the Ghanaian high school, colleges, and university jama sessions that I had just become acquainted with. In those jama sessions, students sung songs raised group morale (group spirit). Some of those songs bragged about their school and put down their competitors. Click for that pancocojams post which is the third of a three part series on Ghanaian jama sessions.

    However, it's important to note that the Ghanaian term "jama sessions" doesn't have the same meaning as the American (United States) term "jam sessions". In contrast to the Ghanaian use of the term "jama session", two American definitions for "jam session" are
    1. a meeting of a group of musicians, especially jazz musicians, to play for their own enjoyment.
    2. an impromptu jazz performance or special performance by jazz musicians who do not regularly play together.