Credit: Courtesy of @whsassassin23 Instagram account

Senior Assassin triggers thought

For over a decade, Senior Assassin has been a tradition for the graduating class of Wayland High School during senior spring.  Many seniors choose to participate in this strategy-based game, but recently controversy has raised questions of whether or not this tradition should continue.

This year, seniors Hannah Gordon and Madeline O’Leary ran the game and would randomly assign targets to every participant during each round of the game. If a person is to make it to the next round, they must successfully squirt their target with a water gun before the round is over.

WHS’ version of Senior Assassin also includes “safety items,” which grant immunity to players whenever they are holding the declared safety item, and “purges,” during which time safety items do not grant immunity and anyone can be eliminated.

“Towards the beginning of the game, we wanted safety items to be a little bit easier, and then they got harder and more random near the end,” Gordon said. “For example, not very many people were going to have a whole whiteboard that they could carry around with them.”

Gordon and O’Leary were also responsible for adapting the rules of Senior Assassin to account for the reputation of the Class of 2023. According to Gordon, she and O’Leary encountered a few incidents of seniors breaking the rules throughout the game, but they were able to manage these scenarios in a responsible way.

“We read through the existing rules and decided to add a couple of things, just knowing the people in our grade and knowing that if rules weren’t explicitly stated, people were going to try to find the loopholes,” Gordon said.

Gordon and O’Leary also tried to make it explicitly clear that the game will have no overlap with the school day. Early on in the game, the leaders eliminated a player for breaking this rule, setting a precedent that this behavior would not be tolerated.

“We don’t want to see any remnants or evidence of Senior Assassin at school,” WHS Principal Allyson Mizoguchi said. “This is a school where students are learning and trying to do their best to engage with their learning, and the constant interruptions [of Senior Assassin] would become difficult to manage.”

Given recent current events relating to school shootings, the Senior Assassin tradition has become increasingly controversial. Due to wanting to keep the tradition, some schools have decided to change certain aspects of Senior Assassin to make it more sensitive to the current social climate. For example, Wellesley High School changed the name of this tradition from Senior Assassin to “Senior Squirt.”

“We wanted to be sensitive to what’s going on in the world and still try to keep up with a tradition that a lot of people like,” Wellesley High School senior and Student Congress Vice President Katie Green said. “We changed the name so that we would not be promoting something like school shootings.”

Some WHS administrators have also voiced concerns about the name of the tradition and what it signifies.

“Regardless of where we are with the tragic reality of school intruders, this idea of students hunting students and just the name of Senior Assassin is a little chilling,” Mizoguchi said.

However, the tradition and the name of the tradition remain the same as of now, and it is up to the Class of 2024 to decide whether or not they will make changes to the name or rules when the time comes for their Senior Assassin tradition.

“Senior Assassin is very controversial, and I think this year’s game has done nothing to decrease the controversy,” Gordon said. “To the current juniors who run Senior Assassin next year, put everything you can think of in the rules and be very clear on your role and where you as a class stand.”

While Senior Assassin is a tradition at WHS that can provide students with the opportunity to bond as a class, administration also seeks to highlight the importance of balancing social fun with academic learning.

“Senior Assassin does provide a fun way for students to have this kind of springtime frolic together,” Mizoguchi said. “At the same time, a successful Senior Assassin is the effort of the student leaders working collaboratively with administration so that we all can have fun while also learning.”

Wellesley is no exception to this springtime excitement, as some students view Senior Squirt as a fun senior class tradition that they will remember for years to come.

“I think Senior Squirt has always been something that seniors have enjoyed,” Green said. “Especially when I was younger, I remember my friends who didn’t have older siblings watching my sister participate in Senior Squirt and saying that it looked like a lot of fun. So, I know that people have definitely been getting excited about it for a while.”

Although Senior Assassin has recently become a more controversial topic, it also continues to provide an exciting and unifying activity for some seniors as they near the end of their high school journey.

“Senior Assassin is a really great way for the class to come together, since it’s something that anyone in the class is welcome to do and it’s not restrictive in any way,” Gordon said. “It’s also a really great way for people to get to know each other. There have been a number of people this year who are not close friends but have worked together for a common goal because of Senior Assassin.”

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