You can hardly hear the music blaring from the speakers as it is slowly replaced with the turbulent rhythm of sneakers squeaking on the gym floor and the barbaric voices of Mr. Bobcat and senior class. The remaining grades pack tightly into the bleachers and face the wall, fighting the urge to turn and face the commotion and chaos behind them.
I can say with certainty that the highlights of my freshman and sophomore years were the memories I made with friends at some of Oyster River High School’s most anticipated events and traditions. I remember being infatuated with the Bobcat pride and passion that the class of 2019 and 2020 seemed to bleed, and it made me excited to participate in every opportunity to show my own school spirit. Typically, this is how it works: Underclassmen learn the high school traditions by observing the upperclassmen. However, after COVID-19 sealed us out of the building for several years, the class of 2022 are the only current students who have had the opportunity to experience an entire year of normal traditions in the high school. What even are the traditions that I’m talking about and why is it important to continue and preserve them?
In a typical year, Oyster River High School sponsors events including Mr. Bobcat, The Hypnotist Show, Besties Baes & Bros, Spirit Week, Pep Rally, Prom, and Senior Week. Seniors enjoy the luxury of the Senior Core and many students attend rowdy sports games geared up in their Superfans shirts. Superfans are typically vocal students that attend many, if not all, of the Oyster River athletic games. Though not affiliated with the school, seniors have the privilege to participate in class-exclusive activities such as Senior Skip Day, Senior Prank Day, and Senior Assassin.
With so many traditions, preserving them involves the underclassmen participating so that they know how to continue them going forward. Many seniors feel that the energy and excitement about traditions are starting to fade and want to bring it back. Jayson Blaisdell (‘22), a Superfan, said that some of the Bobcat pride “was lost over Covid and it’s on [seniors] because we were [in the building as] freshmen and sophomores. We saw what those seniors did then and we’re trying to replicate that now knowing that we’re going to be leaving next year.”
Reviving that school spirit can be done through continuing our traditions at the high school. One of the many reasons why traditions are beneficial to the high school is that they can bring the classes together and provide a sense of unity in the community. Sam Haskell (‘22), Class of 2022’s Mr. Bobcat, said that “after Covid happened, a lot of people started to break apart, but school traditions bring all the different grades together.”
The friendly competition involved in the traditions at the high school are one of their biggest draws. Costas Frangos (‘24), who participated in Besties Baes & Bros with his sister Lexie Frangos (‘23), did so because “I thought I was going to win and I also wanted to beat Mr. Baver.” There is an element of friendly competition in many of the events, especially in Mr. Bobcat and the Pep Rally.
In addition to bringing the student body together, our traditions make us unique and cultivate a culture of togetherness at the high school. “The big tradition that I like is that there’s no other high school I’ve seen that has fan t-shirts. The Superfan environment at Oyster River is different than I’ve seen at any other school,” said Blaisdell. As a student from Barrington Middle School, he said that a significant reason why he chose to go to Oyster River High School is because of this community culture. “I liked how even though it was a bunch of different towns, we grouped together and were a big unit when it came to sports and competition against other schools. I really like that and I hope that we can hold onto that after we graduate,” he said.
When I was a freshman, I went to every event and participated in every tradition. I looked up to the upperclassmen and couldn’t wait until I, too, could be a part of Senior Assassin and go to Prom. Having traditions gives students something to look forward to as they move through high school. Frangos said that he heard about many of the traditions from his older sister when he was in eighth grade which made him excited for high school. The importance of continuing traditions goes further than just the enjoyment of current high schoolers.
This is not to say that the traditions won’t ever change. Alexander Eustace (‘14), English and acting teacher, said that “Besties Baes & Bros” used to be called “Friends and Benefits,” and staff were more involved in traditions at the high school than they are currently. “Staff competed. During all of the activities, staff were part of the events. They are no longer part of that, which is disappointing for me as a staff [member],” he said.
As for preserving the traditions that we have, it’s historically been on the shoulders of upperclassmen to model the traditions at the high school. As the current senior class graduates, the baton will be passed to the Class of 2023 to show the underclassmen how they can show their Bobcat pride.