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Written by Sarah Balkaran
There are a handful of traditions here at Townsend Harris High School that have taken root and flourished. From sports teams rituals to the celebrations of the school’s rich history, these traditions are what make the THHS student body a family.
Founder’s Day reminds us of the beginnings of Townsend Harris. In the annual senior skit, the plot behind the senior skit for the past years has been introducing a freshman to the atmosphere of THHS. Freshman Melanie Esterine believes that “the senior skit gives freshmen the chance to learn about teachers they may encounter in the future as well as teachers they may have missed out on. It also gives the chance for upperclassmen to reminisce on teachers they may have had in previous years.”
The Founders’ Day roll call is a tradition every grade looks forward to. Every year the Principal takes attendance by calling out the graduating year, and when he reaches the senior class, they stay silent before exploding into raucous cheers and chants. This year, the senior roll call featured Yuriy Markovetskiy inciting the Class of 2016 into cheers with a “Can I get a hoo yeaaaaah!”
Seniors play an important role in creating these traditions. It is by leaving something behind, or changing the school, that they are able to be memorialized. However, it is up to the underclassmen to keep these traditions alive, especially in teams and clubs, where underclassmen must inherit leadership roles. The previous leaders often create traditions in order to help their successors get used to being a leader and help new members become integrated into the group.
In the girls track team, underclassmen purchase gifts and make scrapbooks for the senior track members. Senior track captain Joanna explains, “the juniors in charge of the entire thing get to apply leadership skills and communication skills that they will need to run the team the following year.” But she stresses that this tradition is important because “senior gifts are a way of showing our appreciation and love for the seniors who will no longer be running with us the following year.”
The clubs at Townsend Harris also have many traditions. The MSA (Muslim Student Association) holds Hennafest. Senior Najila Zaman said that during Hennafest, students “have guest speakers, put on henna, introduce everyone to the religion of Islam, and encourage them to try traditional food.” There is also an annual picnic and water balloon fight in the Quad with the past and present members of MSA.
Traditions also exist within the Festival of Nations groups. The Filipino dance group often refers to themselves as a “Pamilya,” with the harrowing experience of jumping in and out of sticks uniting them together. After the FON season ends, the members have one more Pamilya reunion and eat out at a Filipino restaurant. Flip FON also conducts a ceremony in which the current leaders present the flag to the next leaders. Junior Christian Foronda says it’s a fun tradition that helps “to crown or identify the new leaders of Flip FON.”
New traditions are constantly being created and passed down. Stephanie Loo, alumna of Class of 2014, created the ‘Introducing Class of’ just two years ago. Stephanie says, “I think the greatest lesson I’ve learned in doing this is that everyone wants to be remembered somehow.” The project continued the next year with the Class of 2015 and subsequently the Class of 2016, cementing it as custom among the senior class.
Additional reporting by Sarah Gafur and Pridha Kumar