We were crossing enemy lines. With Mr. McKinney in the driver’s seat of the school’s white van and my four fellow Pep Club Executives in the backseat, it felt like unchartered territory. It was lunchtime, and as we walked up to the front doors of the infamous Shawnee Mission South, we were surprised to find students eating lunch outside, enjoying the cool fall day, with music playing from the loud speakers overhead.
We were on a mission to come up with a solution to the tumultuous rivalry that had reached the point of danger. Students were turning into vandals, and basketball games were turning into war zones. As we ate pizza in the Shawnee Mission South conference room, we came up with the idea to turn the once hateful South rivalry into a positive one.
We decided our two schools would host a four-week-long competition leading up to the basketball game on Feb. __ to benefit Giving the Basics, a local nonprofit that provides personal care products not covered by food stamps. East did a SHARE project for Giving the Basics in the past, and we knew it was an organization that students from both schools could benefit from.
We began to have more pizza luncheons and meetings with the South kids. We made a Groupme where we collaborated on ideas and dates for the impending competition. Sure, they were still our rivals. And as Mr. McKinney explained to us, a rivalry is great for a school, but not when it reaches the point of danger.
Our goal isn’t to get rid of the rivalry between East and South. Our goal is to turn the rivalry into something with a positive benefit.
After discussing it with the students from South, it was decided that we would allocate a week to laundry detergent, shampoo, deodorant and toilet paper – the four goods Giving the Basics has the highest demand for.
The jury’s still out on who will bring in more laundry detergent for the first week of the competition, but there will be three more weeks to pull ahead. And I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to channel such a passionate rivalry into something that can benefit both of our communities.
But I have full faith in the students of East that they’ll never let South beat us. They’ll bring in however much laundry detergent, shampoo, deodorant and toilet paper it takes to beat South. And even though bragging rights are enough of a reward, the added bonus is that it will all benefit our community.