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Student-run game of senior assassins raises concerns from parents

Ell Macias
The rise in suspicious activity during what is meant to be a fun summer tradition has caused schools to warn participants and families to be careful.

Student participation in senior assassination led to Principal Daniel DeBruycker sending correspondence home to parents. Students may consider implementing additional regulations to make the game safer. 

As students return from spring break, many seniors look forward to participating in senior assassins. 

“I like the game. I like how all the seniors get together and play this game, where we can bond and have fun in our senior year,” senior Diya Shah said. 

Maddison Mroz, the organizer of senior assassins for the 23-24 school year, explained the game. 

“Senior Assassins is a game that a bunch of high schools play. It involves the senior class trying to shoot an assigned target with a water gun within a ‘round’ while simultaneously trying not to be eliminated by another player. Each round gets smaller until there are only 2 people left, then there are various ways of deciding 1st and 2nd place,” Mroz said.

There are rules that participants must follow. The rules state that the game cannot be played on school property, the target’s house cannot be entered without permission, and the target’s recreational practices (such as work) cannot be disturbed. There is a registration fee which was $10 this year. All of the money collected is divided into cash prizes for the top three winners and additional accomplishments (most wins, most creative win, and first win).

Special Education Department teacher Carrie Wrona recalls how excited seniors get when the game starts. 

“I’ve been teaching seniors for many, many years and I do know that it is a fun activity that the kids look forward to every year,” Wrona said. 

Although the game seems relatively harmless, it has created unease within the community, resulting in the police releasing statements. Multiple news networks have covered police involvement in the game. 

Principal Daniel DeBruycker corresponded with parents of Metea Valley students regarding senior assassins. In the email, Mr. DeBruycker clarified that the school does not “organize, support, or sanction senior assassins water gun games.” 

“The purpose of me sending the message was simply for the parents to have conversations with seniors to understand the safety concerns. In the message I did not say [the game] should not be [played]. In the message I did not say we’re going to do anything about it. It is simply an informational communication for the parents that they understand that those safety concerns are brought to the school,”  DeBruyucker said. 

DeBruycker pointed out the various factors that resulted in his decision to send correspondence to parents. 

“It was the incident at Neuqua, conversation with the police department, a couple of different parent conversations, and then I would say the most alarming one was the misunderstanding of the parents thinking that we are running it as a school,” DeBruycker said, “So I wanted to make sure that they understand that we do not organize it or run it, or have an adult that’s coordinating some of these things because of the safety concerns.”

DeBruycker received complaints from parents regarding the game. In order to achieve the game’s objective, students from neighboring schools have been dressing in dark clothes and hiding in neighborhoods with water guns in the middle of the night. The water guns they were carrying were mistaken for actual weapons, resulting in many calls to the police. The parents of Metea Valley students reached out to Mr. DeBruycker about their concerns regarding the safety of the game. DeBruycker understands these concerns but establishes that the school administration has no control over the game. 

“Our students are involved, but the school does not sanction, organize, or run senior assassins in any way shape, or form. My stance as the principal of Metea Valley is I want our students to be safe. And through collaboration and conversations from police departments and community members, it does put students in a position [where] safety could be compromised,” DeBruycker said. 

Wrona, a parent herself, has a student who participated in senior assassins. She shares her experiences with the game. 

“I kind of have to laugh to myself every morning when [my son] was still participating in the game. Every morning when I was going out to my car to come to work. I was looking, thinking I was going to be mistaken for my kid, that someone was going to jump out at me. I was only going to be startled because I knew it was happening. And I was prepared, and I wouldn’t have reacted in a negative way,” Wrona said. 

Wrona clarified that her student has informed her about the premise of the game. She was aware that the game was all for fun, and that students did not intend to harm others. 

“I mean, every video I’ve seen on Instagram of the kids ‘getting’ someone [is] out there laughing and having fun with it. Even the kid that’s ‘getting out’ is laughing about it, so I know there’s no harm intended with it,” Wrona said. 

However, Wrona worries about the possibility of students getting harmed when participating in the game. Those who are aware of the game know not to be startled when they see students hiding or running around, but other people in the community who may not be aware of the game might feel suspicious of students participating in the game. 

“Just please be careful and know your surroundings because you don’t want to be sneaking around somewhere where someone might suspect you’re doing something you’re not supposed to, call the police on you or, god forbid, come out with some sort of a weapon, thinking they have to protect their home or their or their family,” Wrona said, “So that part scares me and makes me nervous. So I think those conversations are important for parents to have with their kid.”  

Wrona recognizes that many students view senior assassins as a rite of passage of sorts. According to Wrona, seniors” look forward to [the game] as a younger high schooler” especially if they “see an older sibling doing it”, but Wrona thinks that the game should have more regulation. When talking to other teachers about senior assassins, Wrona realized that in previous generations, the same game was played, but instead of using water guns, students used balled-up socks to throw at one another in previous years.  She provides various suggestions on how students can play the game without being seen as suspicious.

“Maybe [students should] use all like water bottles. I’ve seen a lot of kids with the Gatorade bottles, or things like that. Or even like a spray bottle. I realize it doesn’t go the distance but then it can’t be mistaken for something illegal or scary or where someone might react in the wrong way,” Wrona said. 

Mr. DeBruycker also advises that students make smarter choices. 

“It could be as simple as choosing the water gun that you’re going to use, [that] is going to be important, and not dressing up late at night and sitting in someone’s yard. You can put yourself in a compromising position because that’s suspicious activity for a lot of people,” DeBruycker said. 

Parents can also take measures to protect their students. Having so much as a simple conversation with a student about the game and setting ground rules, such as not allowing them to play the game at night, can keep them safe.

“I, personally, have mentioned it on my neighborhood Facebook page and that kind of thing. Like, ‘Hey, just so you know, this is happening right now. If you see kids sneaking around, that’s likely what they’re participating in.’ Not everybody does that. So I think there probably needs to be more of a community update,” Wrona said.

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About the Contributors
Dhiya Ashlyn D.S.
Dhiya is a sophomore and a reporter for The Stampede. She enjoys creative writing, music, art, and spending time with friends. She is also a classical dancer and spends an unnecessary amount of time daydreaming about and watching Tamil cinema.
Ell Macias
This is Ell’s first year of being a part of the Visuals team on the Newspaper staff. They have a passion for capturing candid moments in photography, which is what motivated them to work in their section. Typically, they are painting, sketching, or working on dioramas during their downtime and will never beat the artist stereotype of carrying a sketchbook everywhere they go. Furthermore, they will never turn down the opportunity to talk about goth bands.

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