By Evie Fowler
Over the past few years, many changes have been made to St. Mary’s’ beloved tradition, Derby Day. Dr. Steakley sits down to answer some of Turkey Nation’s most pressing questions surrounding these changes.
In recent years, the logistics of Derby Day have been tweaked to include such contentious changes as the barred use of paint and glitter to decorate and the eradication of the circle of seated underclassmen being covered by upperclassmen in ice cream, chocolate syrup and other sundae ingredients. After the announcement of some of these changes, several rumors began circling St. Mary’s in an attempt to explain why one of students’ favorite days of the year is not the same as it once was.
When asked about the status of underclassmen sitting in circles, Steakley shared, “That to me is hazing, when you have a group of older students standing over younger students who really don’t have an option, or if they do, they don’t feel they have an option.” She wanted to ensure that all students felt like they had an option to get away from the mess in the food fight. Steakley further explained, “I know that the freshman-senior initiation used to be very different. Now we call it senior-freshman week, and we try to celebrate the relationship between the seniors and the freshmen.” In the past, freshman initiation used to be a week in which the seniors would try to scare the freshmen. The school has been working over the past few years to unify the high school, not have it divided into a power system like it once was. Steakley continued, ”Everyone still got to get messy and dirty, but there wasn’t that power deferential that constitutes hazing.”
In response to being asked what she thought about not sitting in the circles anymore, sophomore Hita Mohan said, “I kinda liked the sitting down in a circle, even though I got dirty. I thought it was just funny … and some people would pat you to get the stuff out of your eyes and be all nice, but also, it’s a rite of passage. Then we could [be the ones to throw the food] when we were juniors and seniors. I do understand the reasoning behind the circles being taken away, though.”
The perspective of freshman Hannah Kerlan was a little different. Kerlan said, “I think standing up was fine because it allowed you to retreat … If you want to, you can have the chance to run away.”
Though this shift from an inescapable condiment downpour to an Upper School-wide food fight may take a little getting used to, Steakley hopes students will feel like they have an option.
As far as using paint or glitter to decorate for Derby Day, Steakley said, “As we move into the new facility, for sure, we are not going to have paint or glitter, so it’s nice to start getting away from that … We are going to have a super nice new terrace overlooking the field and a whole courtyard in between the new buildings and a brand new gym … That is something to know now for next year. Paint and glitter will not return.”
The rumors circling SMS claiming that the loss of paint was due to concerns with cultural appropriation are false. This was not the school’s reason for getting rid of the paint.
The paint and glitter will be missed by many, however, it is also important to consider that when we make the school a mess on Derby Day, the Student Council will be cleaning it up.
This year, there was also an added twist to Derby Day: Seniors were asked to bring syrup, but several snuck in canola oil and barbecue sauce (among other food items) to use in the food fight. Dr. Steakley said, “I did not know about that … The canola oil and the barbecue sauce would have been an absolute ‘no.’ I think that takes us to a whole new level. We also need to ask ourselves if this is this the best use of food items.”
This issue of food and waste is one that has been brought up by many students. She said, “There are lots of people who are asking ‘Why are we wasting food like that?’ I think it’s a great question that we really should consider. Is there something that we could do that could be less wasteful?’”
Dr. Steakley also mentioned that in years to come, she hopes to have huge pep-rallies in the new gym, as well as a student/teacher dodgeball or basketball game. She said, “Now we’ll have this brand new facility, which will provide lots of new traditions.”
For & By Students
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