Administration expresses concerns over safety of the game and participants
Senior Avery Vafa sneaks past her target’s house into the backyard. She scouts the perimeter, trying to find a hiding spot so she can sneak up on her. As she leaves the house, her target, senior Emily Lichty, sends a video of Vafa on the Ring doorbell. She’s caught! Now she needs a new plan to catch her target before Monday morning.
At the end of every school year, the senior class plays a game: Assassin. Each senior who wants to play has to “buy in” with an entry fee. Players are assigned a new target each week and are given mini water guns to eliminate his or her target before the following Monday. This year’s game started on March 28 and ended April 25 when Riley Calvert “assassinated” his target Chase Kennedy, and was declared the winner. The prize, approximately $900, was all the money culminated from the “buy in.”
“It’s a really fun game, which is why I think seniors play it every year,” Vafa said. “Some people take it more seriously than others, but everyone has fun. It’s very exciting and is a game that brings the whole grade together.”
Assassin includes a Game Master who sets the rules and assigns targets to each senior participating. It’s a crucial role in order for the game to work successfully.
“In our grade GroupMe, I [first] sent a message to everyone saying, ‘how much money do you want to [pay to] buy in [the game],’” senior class president and Game Master Jonathan Scurtis said. “I just organized it through GroupMe [after that]. I got everyone’s money [who] wanted to play, and it ended up being [around] 95 percent of the grade. I typed up a Google doc[ument] with basic rules and kept track of each person’s assassin targets.”
Some seniors develop strategies to shoot their targets such as sitting in bushes, waking up early to catch them off guard or just waiting at the school gate by Merrell Road.
“I mostly just wait for the right opportunity,” Vafa said. “Sometimes I have been lucky, but it’s a waiting game. My first target I got out was crossing the street to the parking lot during their study hall. My second target I shot while she was walking late at night in her neighborhood. And then I got another target out at the Dallas Stars hockey game.”
However, the lengths seniors will go to to win the prize money concerns the school’s staff. Potential rule breaks and injury scares have been brought to attention with senior dean Marcela Garcini.
“This particular year, we encountered many problems because the seniors are not following the rules: they play inside, they run inside of the building; but the main concern is the crosswalk,” Garcini said. “Our Dallas Police Department is concerned about our students’ safety, and they are recommending the school to avoid this game in the future.”
Director of Campus Security Jody Trumble agrees with Garcini that the game should be banned in the upcoming years because of risk of injuries and safety during carpool and traffic hours.
“We have had a number of incidents at or near the crosswalk on Merrell where students ran in front of traffic in an attempt to get away from [their] ‘assassin’ while the police officers were directing traffic to move,” Trumble said. “These close calls caused our PD officers to request that the game not be played near the crosswalk, but students continued to play there and more close calls happened.”
Trumble is also worried about disrupting neighbors and families, as they have been caught off guard and even called law enforcement. Sometimes students looking for their targets show up at the home of another student unannounced, dressed in camouflage and hiding in the bushes.
“That caused parents to become alarmed, and law enforcement was called,” Trumble said. “I think anyone who might have seen someone hiding in the bushes, dressed in camo and right outside their front door would become rightfully concerned.”
Homeowners or parents could see the situation as a threat and could take action before realizing that it’s a school game and students are involved, and this worries Trumble as well.
But this game is a tradition and senior students believe that the school should not ban the game. Most highschoolers look forward to playing the game at the end of their senior year.
“Assassin is played every year and has become a tradition that everyone looks forward to,” Vafa said. “Taking the game away would be unfair to everyone in the grades below because it’s just something every senior gets to experience before they leave. I get that safety is important, but instead of punishing everyone else to stop playing the game, we should just remind the seniors to be careful.”
While Assassin has called some teachers and safety department officers to question the safety and intensity of the game, it’s an ongoing tradition that high schoolers all over the country play and enjoy.
“The game is played in a lot of high schools, and I definitely think it brought our grade closer together,” Vafa said. “It is a friendly competitive game that allows you to get to know your classmates and peers and should for sure be continued, so every grade can enjoy the exciting game.”