Senior Sweeps Have Some Cleaning Up to Do to Boost Pep Rally Spirit

Kendra Lennon

Noise and excitement at the homecoming pep rally is growing. Suddenly, shirtless boys in body paint run into the gym. They sweep brooms at the feet of spectators, then prepare to do a dance with the Poms.

These are the “sweeps,” senior boys who, like the Poms squad and cheerleaders, are the hype men for the homecoming game at the pep rally. However, their performances often have no context or introduction. What the sweeps are, or what their original purpose is, is unknown even to some seniors, making them a sudden occurrence rather than a performance to look forward to.

“I know it is a crowd pleaser, but I would enjoy it more if they wore shirts,” gym and health teacher Katherine Gross said.

Gross, staff supervisor of SGA, is in charge of pep rallies, but says she does not know why the sweeps are a part of them.

“The purpose of being a sweep is to show our seniority and to represent the class of 2017,” senior Gordon Mattern, one of the 2016-17 sweeps, said.

However, the sweeps were not originally meant to support only seniors. They originally formed from the practice of holding broomsticks in the crowd to represent “sweeping away” the competition when a single class at RHS won all of the homecoming week celebrations, such as pep rally contests and homecoming halls.

Later, when homecoming week competitions became less important, the sweeps’ purpose became sweeping away the competition between classes instead. They brought classes together to unite against the opposing team of the upcoming game. Eventually, they started taking their brooms to the gym floor, and then decided to get rid of their shirts, paint their chests and much later perform with Poms. By now their original purpose is lost among shouts of “Freshmen!” and chanting of class graduating years.

“Most schools in Montgomery county have some form of boy Poms,” senior pom captain Mia Krawczel said. “The purpose of sweeps is to include boys from different social groups in the senior class who want to dance and hype up Rockville.”

Though different than the original symbolic purpose for sweeps, such a purpose is noble. The boys should be able to dance if they want to, and inclusion of students from many social groups is a great way to get people involved.

Some aspects of the sweeps are less school-friendly than they ought to be. Shirts, for example, are usually required in school, and sweeps should be no exception to that rule. Their dance moves are often more provocative than those of the Poms. The 2016-17 homecoming pep rally saw the boys twerking toward the crowd. This sort of thing is not in line with the goal of pep rallies, which is to get students excited for the football game, not for eyeballing the performers.

The performers at the pep rallies are mostly female, so variety is good. But pep rallies are already full of random, zany events, especially at homecoming, so perhaps we can take the sweeps’ apparent desire to get involved and perform more seriously.

Give them shirts. Give them a more appropriate routine and more time to practice. Let male participation in dance performances be a more serious and intentional thing. Maybe even put more emphasis on the sweeping away of bad blood between classes. Then, those students who did not understand the point of the sweeps’ shirtless twerking may enjoy the performance more and get excited for the game. But even when considering such changes, let the sweeps have fun.

School pep rallies are meant to unify the RHS student body together in preparation for a big football game as opposed to being filled with many questionable antics on the gym floor. Including the sweeps in performances is a good idea, but they should be held to the same standards that the Poms are. That way, the audience can get excited and just enjoy the performance and hype.