All he wanted, he thought, were happy students. What Principal Velozo had was a demoralized varsity football team, a consistently trespassed chemistry lab, and a horde of sullen hipsters. The first two problems were beyond him. After their star quarterback quit, few teenagers were willing gamble their egos at filling the spot. The chemistry lab remained a mystery, and in truth the administration was beginning to think it best they did not know what it was being used for after hours.
His colleagues didn’t know what he expected. Teenagers, by nature, were unhappy resentful creatures. Wringing any school spirit or civic pride from the student body was an absurd expectation.
What they didn’t understand was the source of Principal Velozo’s delusion. He was a rare specimen, one of the individuals who’d adored their high school years. Fond memories of boisterous pep rallies, chaste sweater-clad cheerleaders, and pre-dance jitters rang dissonant against his drab and disaffected students.
It was with that dissonance in mind that Principal Velozo had perused the stalls and tables of the local swap meet. He’d not expected to find anything beyond the cheap pair of trainers and perhaps a card table he’d come for, but the old anthem’s 45 had presented itself.
Behind the table covered with similar faded records and battered vinyl slips, a blond smiled at him from a folding chair. There was something familiar about the sportive cut of her clothes. She’d smoothed her clean red skirt and stood when he found the 45.
Principal Velozo had bought it for the dollar she’d asked for, and promised to put it to good use.
Next week’s pep rally was announced to the usual chorus of rolled eyes. The teachers ushered their students into the gym, and then sat as far from them as was permitted. The cheerleaders, midriffs peaking above their tiny skirts, stepped up and did their best with cartwheels to get any rise out of the stands. Aside from a few pitying claps, the watching students were silent. Even the football team standing on the sidelines looked a little embarrassed to be included in the show.
Everyone looked up when the record scratch sounded over the loudspeaker. Jaunty male voices started their harmony over the grainy music. The sounds of the horns, the enthusiastic support of the pep squad, and the singers’ simple command filled the gym, be true to your school.
The song rolled over the stunned stands and something Principal Velozo had never seen happened. Someone in the stands, a skinny degenerate with raccoon eyes and ripped leggings, stood up and cheered. Her cigarette coarsened voice rang clear, she would be true to her school.
A moment later, a pale drama guy in ugly tight jeans joined her cry. They pumped their fists as they both sung along. Their peers jumped up around them, joining the throng and the song.
The school’s staff gaped, some pushing themselves away from the rising crowd. No one knew what was happening to the teenagers or why Principal Velozo was smiling. The cheerleaders were caught in the rush too, they grabbed megaphones while the football team roared.
The song ended but the chaos did not. A freshman cheerleader grabbed the school flag and broke the pole over her knee with a warrior’s scream. She brandished the makeshift spear into the air and held a megaphone with her other hand. Everyone would be true to this school!
Football players formed ranks behind the cheerleaders, who began a chanting march to the alma mater. The students poured from the stands to join them, surging around their teachers. Principal Velozo was no longer smiling as his school began to rank and file, leave the gym on a warpath towards the Prep Academy.