By Joey Gerome ‘23
There was once a great tradition that students could look forward to as the finale of each school year–Field Day. But for the past two years, Field Day has not happened, leaving three-quarters of us uninformed of what we are missing. It’s time we find out.
The spirited teacher Mr. Hess first organized Field Day in 2012 after a senior passed away. Seeing the student’s peers struggle to process their grief, the idea of having a day of pure fun and relaxation-–one big “recess” for the students–-was introduced to bring some joy back to the community. It became so popular that the tradition took on a life of its own, becoming known as HessFest, Hesstival, or Hesstopalooza.
A typical Field Day was like the afternoons of SEP on steroids. Following the year’s final all-school mass, there was free lunch, an 85 yard long inflatable obstacle course, wiffle ball, spikeball, a 3 on 3 basketball tournament, ultimate frisbee and half court knockout. For the less sports-inclined, the Hesstival offered Mario Kart and a trivia tournament. There were also games just to be goofy: teacher dunk tanks and battle of the bands. Extreme corn hole held acclaim as people tossed bags from the third floor of each building to boards set up on the ground below. A favorite of some alumni was Trench Warfare, where 70 guys per class got in a group like a legion and water balloons were fired at them by the opposing class’ group. If you got hit, you were out. The last team with a man standing won. Finally, the day always ended with the Senior vs. Faculty basketball game and a Tug of War.
Field Day was the last big opportunity to earn points in the annual class competition. Yes, there used to be that too. The class competition went on all year, where your class got points based on how many good deeds members of that class did all year. “M4Os” (Men4Others) were like anti-JUGs–- “caught doing good”-–and earned your whole class a pat on the back. Points could also be earned for winning the Gladiator Games, Chariot Races, contributing the most to the food drive, or winning the Friday Music Contests. Whichever class had the most points at the end of the year won nothing but bragging rights, but it made people care about things that go on all year long.
Only this year’s seniors got to experience the fine tradition of Field Day. Dr. Fior confirmed that it is not in the school calendar for this year. “It came out of tragedy but became something great” in Mr. Hess’s words. The students have lost a lot over the last two years and I think I think the time is right for a Hesstivus for the rest of us.