A Colorful Competition at Ánimo Jackie Robinson Charter High School

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By Roberto Robles
Junior at Ánimo Jackie Robinson Charter High School

When you enter into your freshman year at Ánimo Jackie Robinson Charter High School (AJR), you are born into one of five houses: the Burgundy Lancers, Yellow Mustangs, Orange Monarchs, Purple Bruins, Green Royals, or the Pink Dodgers. “Each house [represents] a team Jackie Robinson played on,” said Ryan McDonnell, Assistant Principal at AJR. “He played on the Muir Mustangs, the Pasadena Community College Lancers, UCLA Bruins, Kansas City Monarchs, Montreal Royals, and the Brooklyn Dodgers.” Each spring, these houses compete in The Robinson Games, a school wide tournament that features trivia, strategy, and athletic games. The winning team receives the coveted championship trophy; but more importantly, the Robinson Games serve as a reminder of the many accomplishments and milestones in the life of the school’s namesake.

It’s Game Time!

You can feel the anticipation on campus leading up to the games. The school buzzes with energy as the Associated Student Body (ASB) prepares for the rallies and events, while each team starts working on their door decorations, team banners, and grand entrances. The Games begin in AJR’s gym; the bleacher seats are decorated with multi-colored streamers that represent the various houses. When roll call begins, you know the event of the year has finally arrived.

Robinson games

The competition begins with the underclassmen. They start with mellow competitions, like wrapping three students with streamers and seeing who can break out the fastest, then slowly escalates to more intense games like dodgeball, and creative challenges such as picking the most Skittles out of a mound of whip cream using only a straw. Sometimes teams may feel like giving up or they may even become hopeless after taking a look at the score, but there’s a popular saying on AJR’s campus: “we lift each other up.” So we do just that.

The second phase of the Robinson Games features the upperclassmen. Considering they’ve been on campus longer and participated in the Robinson Games in past years, they know how intense the competition can be. Placing first at the Robinson Games means so much not only to students, but also to the teachers. Per tradition, the final competition is the relay race. The night before, the ASB soaks and places a t-shirt in a freezer. On the day of the games each house designates a team of four students and one teacher: two to unthaw the shirt, one to run half the track, another one to finish half the remaining half the track. The teachers complete the relay race by participating in a game of musical chairs. After the final race, the points are tallied and the winner is announced, and the whole school celebrates by having a barbecue on the athletic field.

We’re All Monarchs

While AJR is already a supportive and positive place to go to school, the Robinson Games makes AJR even more of a special place. The games were created by McDonnell, who was inspired during a conference he attended. “When I was at the California Association of Directors of Activities (CADA) Conference, I went to a workshop led by a school in Canada and they shared stories about [their tournament], the Highlander Games.” With the support of AJR staff and students, McDonnell launched the first Robinson Games in 2014. Since then the Games have become more than just a spirit week, but a source of deep pride; and a week where we cheer together, win together, and even lose together. Most importantly, we do it all as a family. Regardless of who wins or loses, we are all Monarchs!

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