Students shatter door, threaten senior tradition

Community questions future of stealth tag
Students shatter door, threaten senior tradition

The front doors of the Upper School (US) may not be as famous as Lorenzo Ghiberti’s ordained, golden panels in Florence, Italy, or the controversial floating door that saved only Rose in “Titanic,” or even the doors on which Martin Luther pinned his 95 theses. But on Friday, March 1, the school’s front doors became more infamous than any other. One of the glass doors was shattered by two seniors, dividing opinions among the US community and threatening the legacy of a highly- anticipated senior tradition: stealth tag.

Stealth tag, played annually among seniors in their final weeks before Senior Spring Project, is an elimination-style game where the goal is to tag your “target” by placing a sticker on their back without getting tagged yourself. The game continues, with players taking on new targets after eliminating others until only one remains victorious. The game, recently rebranded from senior assassin due to the name’s violent connotation, has been a part of the senior-year experience for as long as current students and faculty can remember.

This year’s game began two weeks before the end of the second trimester, on February 26. Student Council Member Bradford Kimball ’24 and Senior Class President Adam Murray ’24 organized the competition, running a spreadsheet to assign targets and keep track of “kills.”

Even in an administrative role, Bradford observed a newfound sense of community among the senior class, which he attributes to the game’s influence, he said.

“That last week, everyone congregated in the library,” he said. “People who never talk to each other ever are talking to each other, saying ‘Who do you have?’ It’s a way to bring people together that doesn’t really happen anywhere else. It’s a really important community builder.”

This year, however, stealth tag came to an abrupt pause. Stuck in the atrium of the front doors, Liam Deighton and Manny Carvalho (both ’24) accidentally broke one of the glass panes on impact. Liam spoke to The Vanguard about the incident. His initial response was shock, he said.

“I was just surprised that it broke.” Neither Liam nor Manny faced any consequences for the accident. “It was an accident, a mistake,” Liam said. “No one even got mad at Manny or [me]. It was just something that happened.”

Regardless of the incident, Liam was grateful for the game’s overall impact on his class, he said.

“It was a fun, bonding moment for the grade that we probably need more of at this school. It was bringing us closer together as we were leaving, which is a little sad.”

After the door was shattered, the game was immediately paused by Senior Class Co-Deans Leah Cataldo and Cecile Roucher-Greenberg. On Monday, the game resumed with two changes: the students involved in the accident were both out, and
the game would pause every day during lunch.

Dr. Cataldo and Mme. Roucher-Greenberg, in collaboration with Dean of Students Rory Morton ’81 and US Director Jessica Keimowitz, resumed the game with the understanding that “accidents happen,” they said.

“The game was resumed because after talking to Mr. Morton and Ms. Keimowitz, we determined that ‘accidents happen’ and the damage was not intentional,” Dr. Cataldo and Mme. Roucher- Greenberg said in a joint statement. “Although we wish that the game didn’t cause damage to the school, and that students were more careful while playing, we understand that the full class should not be punished because a few students made a mistake in their judgment while playing the game.”

US Spanish Teacher Margot Caso was shocked that the game was allowed to continue, she said.

“We need to teach the students that poor decisions have repercussions, even if it was an accident. This game should not have been happening inside a school.”

For Ms. Caso, the tradition of stealth tag is an insidious one.

“I hate to be an old grinch, but I think we can come up with a more safe, school-appropriate experience for the seniors. I was caught between two boys and had to yell to snap them out of their game.”

Jude Poisson ’24, the winner of this year’s competition, didn’t believe the door had shattered at first, he said.

“Honestly, I was in disbelief. It was pretty hilarious to see that it actually got to that point for some people.”

Jude, a supporter of the tradition, does recognize the need for changes to the game’s rules, he said.

“I definitely think it should continue, but even this year, the teachers and administration really tried to buckle down, making it as little disruption to the community as possible. I think that’s not really going to work, but that playing with some variations on different rules would be beneficial.”

The day before the door broke, as two seniors were running and chasing each other down the hall, US Spanish Teacher Profe Gabriela Gonzenbach, was knocked against the vertical sprinkler pipe by the stairs in the corner of the
second-floor hallway. She said that the chaos of the game is concerning.

“There are situations like this where they should stop it and say, ‘No, you’ve lost the privilege to continue your game.’” Regardless, Profe Gonzenbach doesn’t blame the seniors for what happened, she said. “BB&N has amazing kids. I love my job because of the kids, and I know there’s respect among kids, with teachers, especially. This time, it got out of hand.”

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