Founder’s Day: New traditions
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By Darren Chang, Nancy Jiang and Pascal Marcktell, staff writers
A day to dress up, a day to have fun, and a day to learn – Founder’s Day is an annual Townsend Harris tradition that provides students with an opportunity to escape the classroom and venture over to Queens College’s Colden Auditorium. This year’s Founder’s Day consisted of performances led by Dr. Sato, Mr. Lee and Mr. Lustig. The annual historical and senior skit and words from keynote speaker Kevin Kim from the Class of 1988, who unveiled plans for his funding of a new scholarship for a graduating senior who best embodies the ideals of the Ephebic Oath also took place.
This year’s newcomers were the Freshmen, the Class of 2021, who experienced Founder’s day for the first time. Every October, the next wave of Freshmen is introduced and inducted into the Townsend Harris community. After reciting the Ephebic Oath, they become true Harrisites. When asked if she was excited for this event before the festivities began, Freshman Elysa Gheorghita responded, “I am. It seems fun and I am excited for the senior skit that everyone is talking about. But mostly I’m just glad it’s a half day.”
While every new year welcomes a new graduating class, the Freshmen weren’t the only newcomers to the annual tradition, Principal Brian Condon also experienced the fest for the very first time. Before his first inauguration, Dean Robin Figelman believed that he’d be pleasantly surprised, “I think he’s in for a very nice surprise and see what kind of school we really have.” When asked about his expectations before the official day, he says, “What’s not to be excited about? It’s probably the one time a year the whole school gets together. I am actually excited to take the oath myself and I think it’s going to give me a sort of special connection to the Class of 2021. We’ll both have taken the oath together.”
While it is an official inauguration for the Freshmen, for the Seniors, Founder’s Day was a bittersweet finale on the annual celebrations. However, this doesn’t mean they didn’t make every second count. Founder’s Day wouldn’t be complete without the student-produced senior skit. Traditionally, the skit has been used to reflect upon the four years they’ve been at Townsend Harris. This year’s skit, written by Daniella Babayev, Lucie Conjeaud, Elana Muradov, and Zorana Dragasevic, hoped to renew the traditions upheld by the skit. While the skit may seem repetitive to those who’ve experienced it already, Skit Director Daniella was excited about her creation. She said that while sometimes it may be cliche and boring, she changed up the pace slightly this year. Before the unveiling, she said,“We’re making fun of the cliches, like the usual freshmen and the guys in the skirts. We still kept all the traditions like the teacher imitations and even added a few faculty members that don’t usually get added, so I’m super excited for that.”And for good reason, the performance last Friday scored many laughs and shouts of enthusiasm from the crowd. Entertaining this year were also the grade roll calls, where each grade competed to see which class had the most pride, and the Seniors even attempted their shot at improvisation, embodying the fun and spirit of the day.
The annual historical skit also returned with Junior Joseph Zhao, who played the role of Townsend Harris this year. “[It was] extremely fun and unforgettable. I was able to represent my entire school while also learning a lot of the history behind the founder of our school. When the day of the actual performance came, I just tried my best to enjoy being in the spotlight and to put on a great show. It was really fun to work with Mr. O’Malley because he has a very humorous personality and he used to be a teacher of mine as well. I also thought that his improv during the show was very funny and brought more life and energy into the show and the audience.”
Even though Harrisites are officially two months deep into the school year, Founder’s Day serves as a landmark for the remainder of the school year, renewing Townsend Harris’ philosophy. A warm welcoming to the Freshmen and returning students, Dean Figelman continues to remind us to, “Know your ephebic oath and stick to it!”