Members of the ADSS cheer team cheer on the senior boys’ basketball Armada in a game leading up to Totem 64. Cheerleaders wear t-shirts supporting their Spirit candidate, Nikki Aquino. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

TOTEM 64: Alberni high school students get into the basketball spirit

Totem Spirit competition runs alongside annual hoops tournament

Four students at Alberni District Secondary School are spreading school spirit for the 64th annual Totem tournament as they compete for the coveted Totem Spirit title. Totem will take place Jan. 10–12, 2019 at the ADSS gymnasium.

Lizbeth Bill, the school’s cheerleading coach and the Totem Spirit coordinator this year, said Totem Spirit is “a big responsibility.”

“We put out a call, and these four students answered,” she explained. “Their teams agreed to support them. It’s really the whole team that’s putting in the effort, not just one student.”

READ: 64th annual Totem Tournament approaches in Port Alberni

This year, Kiara Collinge will be representing the dance team. “I really love Totem because it brings the community and the school together,” she said. She described the “positive vibe” that surrounds the school every January for the annual Totem tournament.

Nikki Aquino, in her fourth and final year of cheer, said she is running for Totem Spirit because she wants to become “even more involved.”

Emily Benson has been in band for seven years, playing the flute and the alto saxophone. “I want to bring us into the light a little more,” she said. “I want to participate at a bigger level than I have previously.” Benson will be performing as part of the school’s pep band—a new addition of last year’s tournament.

Collinge said people “loved” the addition of a pep band last year. “It was a good time,” she added.

Sarah Higginson will be representing her fellow theatre students. She said she decided to run for Totem because she really enjoys school. “I want to make it more of a place that other people like to go to,” she explained.

Although they will each be representing a different team, this year’s Totem candidates are all in the school’s band together. “It makes it easier to work together because we all knew each other,” said Benson.

“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun this year,” added Collinge.

The Totem Spirit’s job is to promote Totem to the rest of the school, as well as the rest of the community.

“We’ll be promoting events throughout the weekend and making sure people get involved,” explained Higginson.

“The No. 1 piece is education within our school,” said Bill. “Getting the word out that it is a big deal, it’s fun coming out. Once Totem starts, [the candidates are] in charge of trying to get crowd involvement and crowd participation. They’re also good ambassadors for our school.”

Votes will be handed out Thursday, Jan. 10 and Friday, Jan. 11 and members of the public will be able to vote for their favourite Spirit candidate. But Bill says the competition isn’t just decided by a vote.

“The winner is also chosen on their commitment to school spirit,” she said. “It’s not just a popularity contest.”

Over the years, Totem has grown to become much more than a basketball tournament. According to Bill, it’s a showcase of the talent at ADSS.

“And it’s a really great way to see students in our school acting positively,” she said.

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