Putting the Pride in JPCO

Kolbie Christensen, Editor-In-Chief (2020-21)

The energy is high, the lights are low and the music is loud as students file into their class section. Each of the year’s eight assemblies have their own mood. The Kick-off Assembly is all about energy, Homecoming and Sweetheart are more about tradition, and the recognition assemblies have Jaguars in awe of athletic and academic achievement. The one thing that stays consistent is the anticipation for what might happen. That is where the Jaguar Pride Coalition comes in.

JPCo is made up of a select group of juniors and seniors who are passionate about promoting Jaguar activities, sports and leadership. They put together the spirit assemblies and help organize the themes for Spirit Weeks and dances with Student Council.

JPCo started in 2010 when teacher Dr. Laura Restivo proposed an idea to former principal Tony Lake. The  West family was splitting with the opening of BV Southwest that fall. Students had the opportunity to select which school they wanted to attend and several staff members left BV West for new opportunities.

“When a school splits, it’s an opportunity for the school that is left to redefine itself, to reinvigorate, to get pumped up about the choice to stay at West,” Restivo said. “So we developed JPCo with the idea that it would be a group of student leaders [that] would promote school spirit, establish and maintain tradition, and build a positive school culture.”

That first group of JPCo members  attended games and performances collectively, started planning contests at assemblies, and helped create a vision for what kind of school BV West would be.

“I think for me it’s less than a group of student leaders doing goofy things in assemblies and more [of] just a group of people who are there to lift you up and propel you further into your leadership experience,” senior Jacob Stenslie said. “And so we go through hardships but we always come back at the end of the day to resolve it and that’s my favorite thing.”

The effort and preparation that is done by JPCo members to plan assemblies is significant. Between coming up with ideas that students will enjoy, to actually talking in front of your teachers and peers or performing a skit during an assembly, hours of script writing and rehearsal have occurred.

“At the beginning, it’s just all of us kind of shoot out ideas, it’s kind of a like a really big socratic seminar,” Stenslie said.

After the initial brainstorm, the group is divided into smaller committees where they discuss different skits and ideas. JPCo also

considers the purpose of the assembly when deciding on what and how things will be done.

“The first thing is to get an outline of what you want to do,” senior Madi Messenger said. “If it’s a pep assembly, what kind of game do you want to play, or do you want to do a skit, or if it’s  State recognition you have to talk to the coaches [to]  see what they want and you have to make it interactive.”

After an outline of the script is formed, the group continues to make corrections and edits until the script is done. One of the hardest things is making sure that all of the jokes and skits are enjoyable for everyone and not offensive. Assistant principal Bryan Brutto is consulted as well.

The group’s goal is to have the final assembly script finished a month in advanced, however, that is not always the case. The homecoming assembly was created in only two weeks, others take months.

“For the first assembly of this year they started to plan it in June to get it approved and ready to go,” Restivo said.

The final rehearsal is performed one to two days before the day of an assembly. Members work through the script as though it is an actual assembly with an audience.

“Normally we run through it twice and during JAG if we have a game or skit,” junior Will Hudler said. “The people in said skit would come in and we would make some final touches.”

While everyone in JPCo has leadership skills and capabilities, some students have more experience. Second year JPCo members are called “Prowlers.” They help guide juniors and first year seniors.

JPCo members can attest that the group is about more than just setting up assemblies. They are very close and embrace the community created in Room 152.

“The whole family aspect, that’s the number one thing that we push [for] at West [in]  JPCo,” Messenger said. “But it really is true, when you come into a class and have it three times a week, seventh block with everyone and go to two plus events a week and have bonding and do all of this stuff, you’re with that group more than I am with my family most of the time.“

JPCo is an important part of the school dynamic.