Just four years into its existence, the pride and spirit that permeates the halls of Olentangy Berlin High School couldn’t be any stronger. Now, that culture can be touted as award-winning following the announcement of Varsity Brands’ annual school spirit awards.
Olentangy Berlin has been awarded the grand prize of $25,000 by Varsity Brands, a national sports equipment and apparel company, after being recognized as America’s most spirited high school. A total of $60,000 was awarded across 12 categories meant to honor the standouts of America’s high schools by recognizing exemplary schools, organizations, and individuals that go above and beyond to build school pride, student engagement and community spirit.
“It really supports the fact that a disciplined, positive culture and climate drives everything that you do,” Principal Todd Spinner told The Gazette of the honor. “It drives academics, it drives student behavior, and it drives relationships. It just supports the fact that we’re doing it the right way. I know that Berlin believes that if you have a disciplined, positive culture and climate, that drives everything … We don’t need validation, but it’s nice to know you’re doing things the right way.”
The application process for the contest included letters of recommendation from school and community figures, as well as a 90-second video highlighting the school’s spirit. Representatives of Varsity Brands also stopped by the schools that applied in order to witness the various elements of spirit and culture before selecting the finalists.
Once selected as one of four finalists for the award, the video created by the school’s broadcast and video production team received the most votes through the voting period to secure the top prize.
Will DeBlock, a journalism student at Olentangy Berlin, has been credited with the creation of the video largely responsible for securing the top prize. In a press release following the announcement of the finalists, DeBlock said of his inspiration for the video, “The culture at Berlin is in every corner of the school so it was very easy putting together this video to represent our Berlin pride.”
A check will be awarded to the school by representatives of Varsity Brands during a pep rally at Berlin High School next school year. Asked what the prize money will go towards, Spinner said he’s going to put those decisions in the hands of the people most responsible for making the Berlin culture among the best in the country.
“It’s all of us,” Spinner said of the school’s culture. “I laid out the blueprint, but everybody from our athletic director, John Betz, to all of the teachers and students, they’re doing it. So I am going to take that money and I’m going to give it directly to our student and staff leaders and allow them to spend it. It’s about them, they’ve built it.”
Spinner added, “I always tell our students and staff that they’re the best students and staff in the best building, in the best district in the state of Ohio. Now I can add ‘in the country’ to that saying, which is really neat.”
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.