by Lani Tunzi
If you happened to see groups of high school boys in pleated skirts and makeup out and about in Eagle Rock last month, this may be why:
On Friday, March 8, Eagle Rock High School held its annual “Dustbowl,” a competition between juniors and seniors that consists of a flag football game played by the girls and a cheer performance by the boys. Participants prepare for weeks, braving rain and hours of practice.
This year, the Classes of 2019 and 2020 faced off, showing spirit and determination. The seniors wore their class colors of icy blue, silver and black. The juniors were in lavender and white.
The atmosphere at the school on Dustbowl day is one of the best things about it. Students arrive at sunrise to apply nail polish, eye makeup and body paint. The day’s activities commence with the boys teams’ morning “cheer off.” Teachers try in vain to instruct.
The event is entirely coordinated by the high school students, even down to the team coaches. I had the opportunity to coach the junior-class boys in cheer. I am grateful for the bonding and for the memories that I would not have made if not for Dustbowl. And… the junior boys won the cheer performance!
As for the flag football game, the senior girls won, 6-0.
In our day and age, gender role reversal may seem juvenile and outdated. But Dustbowl is really about much more than that. Everyone who attends – students, staff, family members and alumni – wears the colors of the team they support, showing that school spirit in the name of entertainment, competition and pure fun still thrives. And they give money: Dustbowl is the school’s most profitable fundraiser, raking in $10,000 this year that the junior and senior classes will donate to a charity of their choosing. This year’s proceeds are going to Earth Share California, United Latinx Fund, the LAUSD Employee-Sponsored Scholarship Fund, and the United Negro College Fund.
Lani Tunzi is in the 11th grade at Eagle Rock High School.