30 Pep Rally Ideas for Spirit Week

From elementary to high school, spirit week is a time-honored event that still connects students and staff in the most positive way, making everyone feel like they are part of something greater than themselves. Add some of these spirit-boosting ideas to your lineup to heighten the enthusiasm in your school. 

Spirit Week Starters

  1. Kick It Off - A well-crafted assembly, perfectly timed at the beginning of the week, is a great way to get students fired up. Each department’s teachers can get the assembly rolling by parodying a sports team entrance and rushing into the gym to a “walk-up” song. You can also feature performances from the school’s dance team, band and cheerleaders, as well as some fun Harlem Globetrotters-style tricks from the team.
  2. DJ on the Mic - Choose a staff member or parent volunteer with a booming “radio” voice to do voiceover announcements for the opening pep rally. Set up a DJ station for them with another volunteer who is skilled at choosing just the right music, and the two of them can make sure students stay on their feet.
  3. Temporary School Logo Tattoos - Before pep rallies or school events, sell school logo sticker tattoos for a quarter to ramp up school spirit while also raising some cash.
  4. Senior Shirts - Order special T-shirts for the senior class and hand them out in a ceremony at the beginning of the week. On Friday, have the seniors wear their customized shirts to ramp up school enthusiasm.
  5. Give It Away - Everyone loves free stuff. Candy, pompoms and glow necklaces are fun giveaways to boost morale. Have staff throw items to the students who are participating with the most enthusiasm.

Organize the pep rally planning committee with a sign up. SAMPLE

Themes and Decorations

  1. Color Explosion - For an exciting end to a pep rally, blow up balloons in colors that are a unique twist on classic school colors (e.g., if your colors are green and gold, take the neon versions of those and add a black light). Gather them in a net hanging from the gym rafters. Right before students are dismissed, release the balloons from the ceiling!
  2. Old-Fashioned Field Day - Throw it back to elementary school field days with an outdoor pep rally, complete with classic games like the three-legged race and an obstacle course. Genius Tip: Take a look at some creative field day games and activities here.
  3. Light It Up - If you can afford some arena-style lights, it’s fun to black out the gym and have a colorful light show to go along with one of the performances — or to just add additional energy to special announcements or entrances. Strobe lights can be an exciting way to make an assembly feel like a school spirit rave, but be mindful of students who may be sensitive to the flashing lights. For a fun, cheaper alternative, hand out glow-sticks and dim the lights!
  4. Know Your Roots - For a fun theme that you can use throughout spirit week, focus on the history of your school. Decorations can derive from the year that the school was founded, and you can have some drama students reenact the life of the school’s namesake at a pep rally. Post historical facts around the school throughout the week and host a competition to see who can recall the most information in a showdown between grade levels.
  5. Menu Match-Up - For a twist on the classic themed dress-up days during spirit week, go a little further by serving themed food for lunch that corresponds with the day’s topic. For example, if the dress up day is tie-dye themed, serve food with a colorful twist, like mashed potatoes swirled with food coloring. Genius Tip: Check out these spirit day theme ideas.
  6. Top Honors Pep Rally - Designate a spirit week pep rally to focus on the genius students who have won top brain power honors. Have the mathletes, honor roll students, Future Problem Solvers and spelling bee champs rush the court or field through a huge banner and put their achievements on display.
  7. Fine Arts Pep Rally - Similar to the pep rally for academic champs, a fine arts pep rally can be an awesome space for the talents of your artistic students to shine. Set up winning art pieces, include performances from orchestra students and show clips from budding videographers.
  8. Community Day - Start a great annual tradition that builds school pride while helping your local community. Students and staff can clean up sidewalks, visit seniors or serve at food banks. Load students up into buses for a day where your school holds a “Service Pep Rally.” Students can go into a nursing home and throw a fun day of games, snacks and crafts. Genius Tip: Organize service day volunteers with a sign up.
  9. Worst Prom Photos - Collect prom photos from staff members to display in display cases around the school. Have students vote on worst photo, best dressed and most retro.
  10. Club Fair - Many students are unaware of all the opportunities at their school. Host a club fair and give each club a table to display what their club is all about. This will encourage more participation and recognize some lesser-known groups.

Coordinate concession stand volunteers with a sign up. SAMPLE

Competitions and Games

  1. T-Shirt Design Contest - Encourage the creative abilities of students with a contest to design a new school T-shirt. Have administrators choose the top five options, and then get students to vote on their favorite. If you hold the contest a few weeks before spirit week, you can have the shirts printed in time to capitalize on school spirit!
  2. Class Cheer Battle - Most schools have a traditional school spirit cheer or two, but this twist allows each grade to come up with a cheer for their class. Recruit a team of volunteers from each grade to come up with a cheer (give them a time limit), and then have them perform it for the school. The team that gets the loudest praise from the audience wins!
  3. Poster Contest - Ask homerooms, school clubs and teams to make their best spirit posters to display around the school. For themed decorations, choose something that you can break into different sections for each grade level. For example, if your theme is “City Life,” you can assign a different metropolis to each grade (seniors are Sydney, juniors are Johannesburg, sophomores are Singapore and freshmen are Florence). Teams from each grade can decorate their own posters and cover the gym with different parts of the world!
  4. Dunk Tank - Set a school-wide goal, such as attendance or participation in spirit week activities. Once achieved, students can dunk the principal, teachers and coaches.
School carnival or festival volunteer scheduling and online ticket sign up
  1. Students Versus Teachers - Have a few students and teachers play a game of knockout against each other during a pep rally. The rules are simple: Players line up to shoot baskets, and if the person behind them makes it before they do, they’re out. See who is left standing!
  2. Paper Airplane Toss - Hand out pre-made paper airplanes and have students write their names on the airplanes. At the appointed time, have all students try to throw their airplane into a trashcan in the middle of the gym floor. Winners are the ones who land their plane in one of the trashcans.
  3. TP Teacher Race - This game requires one teacher per grade plus one student from each grade. The student representative has to wrap toilet paper around the teacher. The first one who is totally wrapped is the winner.
  4. Powder Puff Game - Organize a flag football game between girls from the junior and senior classes (or make it just for the senior girls). If it’s spring, a fun twist is to have the senior girls decorate T-shirts or jerseys with the colors and logo of the college they will be attending in the fall.
  5. Tug of War - This game really gets everyone pumped up. Create two teams — one filled with students and another of just staff. It’s great way to loosen up both students and teachers.
  6. Special Talent Show - Shine the light on students who have unusual or unique talents like juggling, magic tricks, rap, dance or beatboxing during one of the week’s rallies. You can even make it a talent show competition and have the winning act perform at halftime of the big game.

Raise money for the booster club with a sign up. SAMPLE

  1. Picture Perfect Contest - Add a contest to your pep rally to get all students involved. Divide the crowd into sections and give each a collection of tiles that form a whole picture. The first section to put the puzzle together is the winner.
  2. King and Queen of the Teachers - Let the teachers share in the spotlight. Let all students nominate and vote for their favorite male and female teachers. Tally the votes and announce winners on the final day of spirit week.
  3. Three Top Prizes - On the final day, have everyone drop their names into a bucket on the way in to school. During the rally, pick three names for great prizes like game tickets and schools shirts.
  4. Pie a la Principal - A fun incentive is to sell tickets for a chance to throw a pie in the principal’s face. On the last day of Spirit Week, choose 10 names from a hat who get the chance to toss a pie at their principal.
  5. Dance Off - Consider ending a pep rally with a dance off. Have students nominate the best dancer from each class, along with a few favorite dancing teachers, to dance it off. The pep rally can end with one big dance party that everyone can participate in.
A well-executed spirit week will boost student body morale while building a stronger community within a school. Use these ideas to get your school moving, serving and cheering! 

Sara Kendall is a freelance writer and mom of two daughters.