We went to the first home XHS football game last Friday.
I probably went to my first XHS football game when I was about six. My brother Robert “Moose Mann” played football for what was then the white high school, Central. He and three other large black males had been recruited to attend Central High since East High, the black high school, did not have a football team.
I have gone to almost every home game with friends and family thereafter except when I was in North Carolina. When my son Michael was in high school, Wayne and I were co-chairs of the boosters club for a few years. Our group used to decorate the stands and hold contests and raffles, etc.
So it was always a rush to head for the stands at what I still call Cox Field. The sound of the drums warming up, the smell of popcorn from the concession stand, the stream of people coming in, some of them calling out greetings, the very place itself evokes such memories of good times that it is not possible to be sad when walking toward the entrance.
In my day, Xenia High was a much bigger school. There were more than 450 students in my graduating class. The band probably had more than 100 members. The football game was the place to be on a fall Friday night for townspeople, students, faculty, staff, and administrators. Neither rain nor snow nor cold stopped us.
Needless to say, in a pandemic with limited tickets, Friday night was a bit different. Masks were required, and most complied, and social distancing was mentioned but not enforced. Nevertheless, there was a decent crowd. There was not, however, decent enthusiasm nor school spirit.
That has been the case for quite a few years now. Years ago you went to the football games because they were a community event. You did not have to have a child on the field or in the band or cheering. Now it seems the crowd is mainly made up of older people like us and people who have a kid or grandkid playing something, football, or instruments, etc.
Our school fight song is a good one that has a little intro to let you know it is coming. Ever since 1962 I have stood up and generally sung along. Friday night fully two-thirds of the crowd did not stand up for the fight song. I was appalled and even exhorted them to get up, a few more did, most stayed on their behinds. Is that important one might ask? Yes, is my answer. I recently took a small (about 350 respondents), unscientific poll of what people would like to see change in Xenia after seeing so many negative comments from citizens. Quite a few of them answered better feeling of community, care for each other, solidarity.
Standing up for the fight song of our only high school might be a good place to start. Attending the games and events even if you have nobody performing might be a good idea. And I am not only talking to the residents of Xenia. I do not see many teachers or administrators, besides the superintendent, XHS principal and AD, or staff members at games and functions either. Supporting your students in their extra-curricular efforts will make your school days better, believe me.
The high school can be, as it once was, one of the strongest heartbeats of a community. When you only have one it can increase commonality, camaraderie, and knowing your neighbors. It is time for a renaissance of school spirit in Xenia.
Hurrah for Xenia High School!
Cookie Newsom is a Greene County resident and columnist.