Brown plus gold equals green
When Yuba City High School's Associated Student Body (ASB) officers set goals for the 2009-2010 school year, they agreed that they needed to increase school spirit. They decided that the easiest and most obvious way of showing school spirit is to display one's school colors. At YCHS, those colors are brown and gold. To get students to wear brown and gold, ASB uses a powerful incentive: money.
So, every week, YCHS has a Brown and Gold Friday, wherein one person, student or staff, is chosen at random from a bowl containing paper slips with everyone's name. ASB then goes on a "Brown and Gold Raid" to the selected person's classroom during first period, and if the person is wearing brown and gold, they win cold, hard cash. If the person isn't wearing brown and gold, the cash prize increases.
The first week of school, the prize was a scant $5. But every time someone wasn't wearing brown and gold, it increased by $5. If someone were to win, the prize would go back down to $5.
For weeks, the selected students weren't showing their school spirit, and the prize went steadily upward. By the time the prize reached $40, ASB began to doubt that the incentive program was working. Vice President Harninder Purewal said, "I started to think no one would ever win."
On Oct. 9, Brown and Gold Friday saw its first winner. However, this was not without controversy. When ASB went to senior Blake Alexander's class that morning, his camouflage pants contained the required brown, but his tie was of a questionable hue. Was it gold, as he maintained, or was it green, as some others thought?
At first glance, ASB ruled Blake's tie not to be gold. But Blake was determined to prove he was spirited and made an impassioned argument in his favor. ASB was divided, so they turned to the students to decide.
Students voted on whether or not they believed Blake's tie to be gold by sending a text message to ASB's Google Voice account — a phone number tied to an e-mail account — where ASB counted the votes electronically. Blake won by a slim margin, but he proved his school spirit beyond doubt by wearing brown and gold every day the following week.
What started out as an incentive to win money became exactly what ASB wanted it to be: a chance for students and staff to show their school spirit. "The great thing about Brown and Gold Fridays," said ASB Secretary Antonia Lancaster, "is that it's not about money any more. Every Thursday, I text everyone I know, telling them to wear brown and gold. And they all do, even though a lot of them have told me they don't expect to win the money."
Freshman Brandon Taylor said, "Even when the prize went back down to five dollars, I still wore my brown and gold, and tons of other people did, too. It's really cool to look out in the quad at the sea of brown and gold and know that people have pride in their school."
Nick Scribner is a senior at Yuba City High School. His column appears about every sixth week in Education.