Anything but a Backpack Day: What Really Happened?

Nathan Arnautu and Mubashir Siddiqui dominating the rest of the senior class.

By Gloria Kosir, Editor in Chief

Niles West Senior Cabinet organized a spirit day with the viral theme “Anything but a Backpack” on Friday, March 11, 2022. The spirit day called for all seniors to abandon their standard backpacks and bring their school supplies in any other receptacle. 

The craze originally went viral on TikTok, spurring a country-wide trend for high school students to attend school toting increasingly bizarre school-supply-vessels. West seniors pushed the envelope, bringing Grubhub bags, rolling suitcases, laundry baskets and even dogs and younger siblings. 

Stellatos and Argos pose inside of the school without traditional backpacks.

Two separate students brought their pet dogs to their first period classes. Senior Marina Stellatos walked in with Argos at the beginning of the school day and walked through the halls. By the rules of Anything but a Backpack Day, Argos wearing a leash and harness that held Stellatos’ books fit the theme, however Argos was removed from the building as a safety hazard. Senior Thomas Magdaleno brought Khloe in a special doggy-backpack. Khloe was also escorted from the premises at the end of first period, around the same time as Argos.

“I thought [Anything but a Backpack Day] was a great idea for a spirit day, and I felt that it was something the whole school could really get behind. It was just a great way people could get creative and have fun,” junior Mia Cejovic said.

Do you think if Khloe had been wearing the backpack instead of sitting in it, she would’ve stayed?

Other students attempted to enter the building in the morning toting shopping carts, a child’s princess bike with training wheels, Target baskets, sinks and inflatable rafts. Not every item was permitted entry. Students carrying items deemed unreasonable by Niles West deans were given the option to return the objects to their cars or to leave them with the deans for the day.

At 9:13 a.m., an email from the deans was sent to all Niles West teachers instructing them to “call the front desk and ask them to contact a dean” if a student had any of the following:

  • Shopping carts
  • Large containers on skateboards
  • Any live pet
  • Large garbage cans or wheelbarrows
  • Grills
  • Sinks
  • Children who do not attend our school
  • Any oversized item
  • Etc.

Others were able to evade the deans and maintain their contraband throughout the school day.

“So I came in the morning for early bird and brought my big truck. I took the cart out and brought it through the pool hallway. I didn’t think anything of this as it was supposed to be a ‘spirit day’ for seniors. I took it to my first two classes and my teachers were shocked and laughing. Next thing I knew, people were getting their things taken, so I just tried to be lowkey. It is currently fourth period and I’m still going strong, but I think I’ll get caught soon. Let’s see if I can make it through the day, though,” senior Rabee Ahmad said. 

Ahmad takes a quick flick in the hallway with his not-backpack.

Ahmad gave an update at the end of ninth period: the cart was still in his possession.

Senior Cabinet members claimed that the event was school-sanctioned and approved by the Director of Student Activities, Katie Odell. However, school officials, including Odell, confirmed that the spirit day was unofficial, declared only by Senior Cabinet.

Unofficial senior spirit days happen every year and are organized by members of the senior class. In the past, there have been a variety of unofficial spirit days, but this was the first time that Anything But a Backpack Day came to Niles West.

The spirit day was originally on the ballot for the Spring Spirit Week, but at the request of a member of the Senior Cabinet, Odell removed it. After its removal from the ballot, Odell faced negative opinions from underclassmen who had hoped that the spirit day would be voted into Spirit Week.

According to Odell, had it been approved or included as a part of Spirit Week, the school would have released guidelines, listing out what would and would not be appropriate. Throughout the day, items such as coolers, bicycles and laundry baskets were confiscated. 

Students across grades and departments enjoyed the unofficial spirit day, remarking on its ability to make both participants and observers laugh.

“High school shouldn’t be all work and misery and all that, but it should also be fun because we’re young and Anything but a Backpack Day was just a good example of kids getting to be kids,” senior Kristina De Lara.

Senior Cabinet hopes to host more spirit days throughout the rest of the semester for seniors.

“We don’t have anything particular in mind, but we would like to have more spirit days for seniors just to increase morale throughout the remainder of the semester and to keep spirits high,” Senior Class President Brandon Thatch said.