Summit Brings Rivals Together

Most everyone in the area is well aware of the rivalry between Manhattan High School and our own Junction City High School. This rivalry spans decades and some consider it to be one of the best rivalries in Kansas. The two schools have a lot in common and that was the topic that Principal Melissa Sharp (JCHS) and Principal Greg Hoyt (MHS) touched upon at a summit held between the two schools early yesterday afternoon.

Students from MHS and JCHS meet to discuss sportsmanship and togetherness.

Each school represents a proud community that stands behind their sports teams. Each school is made up of young people who will have the ability to lead our country in nearly every industry you can imagine. Each school is unwaivered in their support of their team and each school provides opportunity for our region’s children. Both schools support military and civilian families and their community’s businesses employ military and civilian spouses. Manhattan High School and Junction City High School really aren’t that different and that set the foundation for the discussion between the two schools yesterday which focused on the importance of sportsmanship on both sides of the field.

“I’ve seen it boiling a little hotter over the past several years.” – Melissa Sharp, JCHS Principal.

The summit was organized after the MHS vs. JCHS football game this season when Principal Melissa Sharp spoke with longtime friend, opponent, and fellow administrator Principal Greg Hoyt of Manhattan High School. She expressed her concern over the relationship between the two schools and how the rivalry has been more heated year after year. Their focus, and the focus of students attending the summit was to come together and change the path both schools found themselves on.

Each school sent representatives to the Devin Center in Junction City for a luncheon after administrators in both buildings started to observe the fun of the rivalry disappearing. Disheartening social media posts and comments from both sides were part of the discussion and the tone of the summit was that of change for the better and how the two schools can collaborate in the future while maintaining the atmosphere of what has been a fun rivalry.

Melissa Sharp stands at the presentation screen pointing to a hurtful social media post.

Regionalism and togetherness dominated the conversation as students and staff (to include principals, athletic directors, coaches, and sponsors from both MHS and JCHS) discussed the importance of making connections between teacher-leaders and student-leaders. The group also brainstormed on Wednesday afternoon ways in which the two schools and their communities can come together for the greater good. Some of these collaborations in the future could include United Way projects, Operation Santa Claus, cancer awareness, and community tailgating events.

Athletic Director for JCHS talks to the group about the Sportsmanship Trophy.

One takeaway from the Sportsmanship Summit was that both schools and their respective communities can begin the process of balancing this heated rivalry. Much like the two schools did in 1949 when the “Sportsmanship Trophy” was created (this trophy has traveled between the schools for over 60 years).

USD 475 and Junction City High School value our relationship with our USD 383 and Manhattan High School counterparts and we look forward to many more decades of good fun and healthy rivalry.

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