Music flows through the halls of Independence High School (Indy) to start the school day, playing off a playlist provided by principal John Gabriel. According to Independence juniors Rida Ali, Elise Tsao and Grace Bulter, this is a daily occurrence at the new high school.
Through Indy’s online magazine, The Prowl and on a tour with editors-in-chiefs Ali and Tsao and coverage editor Bulter, Uncaged was allowed to get a closer look into what a typical day at Indy looks like.
Independence is now well-known for the new amenities that set them apart from the older schools in Loudoun County, including a Coffee Shop filled with old fashioned games that students are allowed to use freely.
“The coffee shop is open Friday mornings and during study halls,” Tsao said. “They have a Pac-Man arcade game and the newest addition is Mario Kart. The special needs department runs the coffee shop along with the help of the teachers.”
Not only do Indy’s amenities set them apart from other schools, but their class sizes and combination of many people from different schools allows these students to have experiences normal schools don’t.
“There are not that many juniors in our class, only about 200-250, because we had the choice to stay at Rock Ridge,” Butler said. “Also, some people had no choice but to come here due to transportation. But everyone is super friendly because everyone was in the same situation and got split up from someone.”
This difference allows Indy to have a more open environment, and also more specialized classes with their small population.
In addition, Independence currently has no senior class, leaving the school hallways fairly empty. After talking to Indy students, they feel like it is an advantage now that they were given senior privileges.
“I know that some people were able to get early release this year with senior privileges. Also if we pay $20 we can also paint out parking spot,” Rida Ali said.
A huge aspect about Indy that the students believe is what really sets them apart from other schools is their spirit. Sayings such as “IndyOE”, meaning Indy over everyone, evokes spirit within the students. It’s very common to look in the halls to see students wearing shirts with the saying printed in large font.
“We say ‘IndyOE’ to really keep our school spirit going,” Tsao said. “The school spirit is off the charts here, there are just so many different students coming from all different schools join together so we really take advantage of it and want to go to all the schools activities.”
With being the newest school in Loudoun County many students felt they were just starting over with creating many new clubs and activities to get their school going last fall.
“We have a decent amount of clubs here, the teachers are a lot more likely to sponsor something because they know that we are a brand new school and very excited to contribute and be a part of something and start a tradition,” Ali said.
The new start of everything for the school also meant many new sports teams having their very first seasons.
“Our golf team won states,” Butler said. “Seriously, our sports teams were pretty good compared to other schools when they first opened up, but we still have our struggles.”
Walking the halls of Indy, the spirit is definitely apparent with the sports team photos hanging up along side the pep rally photos.
“For our pep rallies, our school rents a DJ station, smoke machine, disco lights and also were donated hoverboards for the pep rallies,” Butler said.
Despite Independence being a new school, their welcoming environment and stress on school spirit is evident to anyone visiting. Their non-exclusive community and new amenities is what sets them apart from other schools in Loudoun County as Ali, Butler and Tsao showed what “Indy Nation” means to them.