Students with higher levels of school spirit perform better academically, are more civically engaged, and are happier in general than their less-spirited peers, according to research released today by Varsity Brands. This online research was conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Varsity Brands this past spring among 1,016 high school students, 315 parents of high school students and 150 high school principals across the United States to learn more about school pride, academics, self-esteem, community involvement and more.
The research found that students with higher levels of school spirit also have higher average Grade Point Averages and are more likely to plan to further their education than students with lower school spirit. Additionally, the large majority of principals (89%) feel that it’s important to build school spirit at their school and four in five (80%) agree that school spirit is a key measure of an effective school administration. Parents who say their child has a lot of school spirit are more likely than parents who don’t to report that their child performs above average in school academically compared to other students (61% vs. 31%).
“School spirit is a powerful reflection of pride, achievement and determination. It goes hand in hand with positivity and is a benchmark of a school’s holistic success,” said Jeff Webb, CEO of Varsity Brands. “High school students, principals and parents agree that higher levels of school spirit reflect more positively on the students’ high school experience. Varsity is proud to contribute to that experience through the wide range of products and services offered by our three brands.”
The survey revealed key insights on the connection between student achievement, involvement and confidence:
“Having seen firsthand the coordination between student achievement and higher levels of school spirit, I’m glad that there is now a set of research that reinforces this key relationship,” said Bob Gardner, Executive Director of the National Federation of State High Schools (NFHS). “This encourages students, parents, community leaders and all school personnel to support and promote participation in school activities. These activities build a student’s self-esteem and confidence as well as provide lifetime memories.”
This survey was developed by Varsity Brands to better understand the role school spirit plays in academic performance, principal and teacher involvement and parent engagement. The complete findings are available in the “School Spirit: the Connection between Student Achievement, Involvement and Confidence” white paper at www.varsitybrands.com.
 A “school spirit index” was developed for students based on the following four attributes: 1) students’ self-assessment of their level of school spirit; 2) students’ self-reported pride in their school; 3) students’ propensity to get other students to be active in school events; and 4) students’ plans to return to their school for special events after graduation. Students were grouped into categories of high, moderate, and low school spirit based on their combined responses to these four components.