Totem 66 Spirit candidates: from left, Emma Fines, Kaitlyn Aston, Caiden Meyer, Maria Banman and Madeline Joseph have history and experience behind them as they stir up Alberni District Secondary Students in anticipation of Totem 66—whatever it may look like—in early 2022. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Totem 66 Spirit candidates: from left, Emma Fines, Kaitlyn Aston, Caiden Meyer, Maria Banman and Madeline Joseph have history and experience behind them as they stir up Alberni District Secondary Students in anticipation of Totem 66—whatever it may look like—in early 2022. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

There’s no denying the spirit behind Alberni District Secondary’s Totem 66 tournament

Seniors whip up school pride leading up to holiday break as organizers await word on tourney’s fate

New public health orders affecting youth tournaments and large gatherings may have put the future of Totem 66 in doubt, but it hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of the five Totem Spirit candidates.

British Columbia’s public health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, on Friday banned sports tournaments until at least Jan. 31, which will likely affect Totem, the longest-running high school basketball tournament in B.C. Totem was cancelled in January 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions, but was back on for 2022 until last week.

READ: Sports tournaments, New Year’s parties banned in B.C. Omicron surge

“The committee will meet on Monday (Dec. 20, after the AV News’ deadline) to discuss an alternate date or to explore different options for Totem 66,” said Jennifer Anderson, one of the Totem 66 organizers.

Students, coaches and teachers at Alberni District Secondary School have prepared since September for the tourney and all that goes with it.

This year’s group of Totem Spirit candidates is small—numbering five graduating students—compared to previous years. “This year they opened the competition up to anyone, not just people who were part of a group (or team),” said candidate Madeline Joseph.

Totem Spirit 66 candidates come with a lot of experience behind them—some of it historical. Even Anderson, one of the organizers and a teacher with SD70, is a former Totem Spirit winner from 2006.

Kaitlyn Aston comes from a family of Totem tournament veterans, including a cousin who won.

Her cousin, Carolyn Pedersen—now Jasken—represented the Chiefettes basketball team and was crowned 1979 Totem Princess.

“My Dad (Robert Aston) played in 1985-86 and my uncle Bill (Andrews) was Totem MVP in 1957,” she said.

Kaitlyn Aston first got involved in Totem as a leadership student and said it’s the vibe more than her family history that motivated her to run for Totem Spirit this year. She has helped older students with their past campaigns and said it is her turn this year.

“I wanted to continue my family’s involvement this year,” she added.

Madeline Joseph is the second generation of Josephs to run for Totem Spirit: her mother, Janis, ran for Totem Princess in her graduating year of 1982. “I thought it would be fun if I did too,” said Madeline. A member of the dance team, she has been involved in Totem “ever since Grade 8. It’s always been so fun. It’s going to be a good competition this year.”

Emma Fines has been involved with Totem through the dance team and leadership class since she entered senior secondary at ADSS. “It’s my favourite part of the year and I wanted to be as involved as I could,” she said. “I knew some of the people who were running—I’ve known them for such a long time—I knew it would be a lot of fun.”

Caiden Meyer has been involved with the pep band for the past three years, pumping up the team with music at breaks between whistles as well as half time. This year he wanted to be involved in a different capacity.

“When we’re playing and performing with the band and singing with the rest of the crowd, it gets me going. I love it so much. I’ve always wanted to be a part of it and be that spirit.”

Maria Banman has stirred up excitement at Totem for the past few years as part of the ADSS cheer team. “They always made it look so fun and brought everyone together. I wanted to spread school spirit.”

She said she hopes students know “we’ve all been really involved with the school. It’s what brings us together.”

They want people to know this is a “friendly competition,” Meyer said.

“We’re all such close friends,” Joseph said.

“We don’t want it to be a ‘competition,’ we just want to have a lot of fun together,” Fines said.

“We want to raise school spirit for the year that we missed,” Aston said.

No matter what Totem 66 looks like come January, there is no denying the school spirit is high as students head into Christmas break.



susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

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