HBA’s long-held tradition of Spirit Week—in which middle and high school students compete in games and activities to be the most spirited class—returned in full swing this January, after two years of being scaled down due to Covid-19 restrictions. This year’s event presented the last opportunity for the Class of 2023, the seniors, to secure the coveted Mana Cup and conclude the journey that they began as middle schoolers.

The seniors kicked off the week with a spirited showing in the first assembly and kept the momentum going all week. When the final scores were tallied, the seniors got what they set out to win—the award of being the most spirited class of the school year.

As inexperienced seventh graders, the Class of 2023 were first introduced to Spirit Week in 2018 and earned a last place finish. Although their eighth grade year saw some improvement with a fourth place ranking that topped the freshmen and seventh graders, they fell short the following year as first-time high school students, settling with fifth place. “During Spirit Week freshman year, it was easy to get frustrated with the lack of spirit in our grade, and I often had the thought of ‘this is it, we’ll be like this until we graduate,’” senior class council president Lauren Toda said. “Luckily however, [this year] was not the case.” Toda has been the class council president since her freshman year.

This year, as seniors, the Class of 2023 began their final Spirit Week well-equipped and determined. Senior Jeremiah Seng explained, “Freshman year, [our class] didn’t really know what to do. So I feel like now, we are more secure, and we know what the protocol is. I think we were all really on board with it from the start and had a lot more fun.”

With an overall score of 324 points, the seniors sealed their first place win, followed by the juniors with 286 points and the sophomores with 258 points. From a technical standpoint, the seniors showcased exemplary performance in nearly every category. They received full points for every dress up day, reaching almost 100% participation across all five days. Despite a tie with the juniors during the first day’s Tug-of-War, the seniors scored the highest for the subsequent days’ events: Table Surfing (which replaced Platform Jam), Capture-the-Flag, Pepper Squad, and All-School Cheer. The seniors also earned the most points for their Burger King mascots and their donations to the Hawaii Children’s Cancer Foundation through the National Honor Society’s fundraising event.

For Monday’s assembly entrance, senior mascot Joshua Kusuda (in the role of Burger King) dramatically ate a Burger King burger while surrounded by cheering classmates. Photograph by Brendan Aoki (‘24).

Beyond the scored categories, the seniors planned special entrances into the gym and performed a variety of energetic and cohesive cheers throughout the week’s assemblies. This impressed many underclassmen, especially since it was something they had not seen before nor expected. Freshman mascot Zoë Naso wrote, “The seniors brought their A-game this year! I definitely believe my grade can do as well as the seniors when the time comes for us. We observed what they did to earn points, have participation, but mainly have fun! They had several techniques and planned activities that brought their cheer level up. They brought so much spirit to their class and influenced the other grades as well.” Sophomore Amanda Tsuha also agreed that her class gradually increased in spirit throughout the week and felt more inspired to win next year after seeing the “really hyped” seniors.

On the last day of the week, during the halftime of the boy’s Homecoming basketball game, the seniors waited eagerly for the announcements of the final results. The gym grew silent as Student Council MCs Jared Cruz and Skylar Takeuchi reached for their microphones. The stomping of feet on the bleachers crescendoed in anticipation, and all eyes darted to the envelope in Cruz’s hand containing the official results. As the results were announced, the Class of 2023 erupted with victorious cries. Onlookers watched as they stormed the court in frenzied excitement, crowding around their Mana Cup—the trophy awarded to the most spirited class.

At halftime of the boys homecoming basketball game, the seniors waited eagerly to find out if they had won Spirit Week 2023. This is the moment when the final results were announced.

When reminiscing about their class’ celebration, senior class council historian Marissa Watanabe vaguely recalled the screaming and cheering. However, she found the camaraderie among her classmates especially memorable. “We all shared that same moment, and we all came together and worked as one unit for Spirit Week. I think the overall feeling was gratitude. We were able to experience such a special moment, singular to HBA, that the Classes of 2021 and 2022 weren’t able to share. It was just a brilliant, gratifying, feverish moment that none of us will ever forget,” Watanabe said.

On Pepper Squad Day, the Class of 2023 sported paper crowns to match their Burger King theme and performed a senior entrance involving newspapers. Photograph by Brendan Aoki (‘24).

Following the Spirit Week excitement and a restful four-day weekend, the senior class gathered during homeroom the following week to reflect on their victory and recognize their classmates’ contributions throughout the years. Toda wrote, “I think we won because of our hard working students behind the scenes. Everyone who helped out with either the banner, Pepper Squad, or the cheers spent countless hours in preparation for the week. These people often don’t get recognized enough, but I am so thankful for all the hard work that they did to get us the Mana Cup!”

While senior class advisor Ryan Frontiera was happy to see the seniors win Spirit Week, he was most proud of their growth. “I remember when they were freshmen…they were really disorganized or timid or didn’t want to be a part of things, and that had changed a lot. One thing that matters to me with Spirit Week is a chance for people to be a part of something bigger. They came out of the week pretty clearly connected with each other and enjoying it. They were ahead of the points the whole time. They won a lot of games. They won dress ups in competitions. But generally, if you were just in the gym any day, you would have said they were the most spirited,” he said.