The sun rises… Seniors gather at the gulf to watch the sunrise together. Submitted photo.
The sun rises… Seniors gather at the gulf to watch the sunrise together. Submitted photo.

Seniors participate in traditions to end high school years

October 25, 2022

Senior Traditions Stir Up Fairhope Pride

by A.C. Ahrendt and Jillian Surla, reporters

FAIRHOPE, Ala.- Seniors have spent 2,520 days in school; it only makes sense that they cool down with some fun traditions. Anticipating throwing their caps off, seniors have a few traditions that let them de-stress before furthering their education.

Beginning with senior sunrise, seniors start the year with an activity to bring them together. Contrastingly, the super-soaking fun of senior assassin lets seniors shoot out their opponents with water guns. At the last home football game, seniors involved in extracurriculars are honored when their parents walk them out on the field at Senior Walk-Out.

“Juniors should definitely consider [participating in the senior traditions] next year,” said senior class president Ryan McNeil, who helps supervise them.

Seniors end their last year with a bang, or more literally, a splash. During the last year of school, seniors can join an exciting game of Senior Assassin.

“[Senior Assassin] is a game where [a senior] would get assigned a person to shoot with a water gun,” McNeil said.

You’re out… senior Kealee Johnson assassinates Joshua Gillen after his shift at Planet Fitness. Submitted photo.

Even though the game is basically a free-for-all, there are still a few rules to organize the chaos.

These rules relate to when and where the senior can and cannot be shot, as well as how to confirm a successful assassination.

Participants cannot shoot someone when they are on campus, at work, at practice or at the game.

To be safe from being shot, the participant must wear pool arm floaties. To assassinate a target, the assigned must shoot their target and record the interaction. The recording will then be posted on the senior GroupMe or sent to the senior class president.

“If you shoot someone and they haven’t assassinated their [assigned] target yet, you now take over their target,” said senior Ellery Scott, a participant in Senior Assassin.

Principal Jon Cardwell says the seniors get into all kinds of hilarious situations, often leaving them drenched. He says he “so enjoyed hearing about and watching the videos” about the Senior Assassin shenanigans.

“I called one of Hunter [Hughes]’s friend’s dad and I parked in their driveway, which is right by them. I went over and hid back in the fence by his car, where I knew he was going to come,” said senior Lillie Mitchel, the first to assassinate her target, ”And so, I hid in the bushes and we heard his car pull up. And, he got out and I ran and he was oblivious. I shot him with water in his back.”

Seniors should definitely consider joining in on this good fun! It’s their last and only chance to mess around with their peers in a fun game of water gun fighting.

I love Senior Assassin. It’s harmless, innocent fun,” Cardwell said.

Yellow turns to orange, orange turns to red and friends turn to family; the Senior Sunrise promotes a closer bond between senior peers. The Senior Sunrise is a few days before school, where seniors gather to watch the sunrise at about 5:30 A.M.

Senior Sunrise actually is not a school-sponsored activity. It’s been done for the last several years, but I didn’t organize it,” Cardwell said.

Waking up before the birds start chirping, seniors socialize and hang out with their friends days before their last year of high school. 

“It was really fun to hang out with my friends and watch the sunrise together,” McNeil said.

McNeil says that he got to see [his] friends a few days before school started and hang out.

“It was definitely worth it [to wake up at 4:00 AM],” McNeil said.

Senior year can be both exciting and nostalgic as it is a time of significant growth. As students transition from high school to their real-life career pursuits, senior traditions lighten and propel them through their remaining time at FHS.

The Senior Night/walk-outs has been a tradition since before my even becoming principal here,” Cardwell said.  

By senior year, students have given everything in pursuit of their academics, and it is time to both celebrate and honor their contributions.

Before the kick-off of the last home football game of the season, parents of football players, cheerleaders, twirlers, band and color guard members walk their child onto the field to receive a moment of honor and awareness for all they have put into their years as a parent.

It’s a wonderful tradition to honor parents and their support of their children.  I recently did it with my son at Gulf Shores HS, and it was very meaningful to me,” Cardwell said. 

Senior Walk-out along with all senior traditions brings students and families together at the conclusion and beginning of a season of life.

Senior Walk-Out serves as one of the first “lasts” of senior year. Traditions like Senior Assassin, Sunrise and Walk-out are a right of passage and make moving forward to post-high school life exciting.

Traditions provide consistency through the transition from High School to adult life. Like many activities, they are more about the fellowship than the activity itself. These traditions are about bonding, relating and lifting each one another up which results from shared experiences.

An emotional moment… Mali Sok walks out with her parents to be honored at senior walk-out. Photo by Sharon Pippin.

At the end of the day, high school, aside from education, is just a bunch of adolescents finding purpose and creating meaning in the life they have been given. 

“One thing that is so special about Fairhope High School is that although a new group of seniors come through each year, the traditions never leave,” Scott said, “Although each class may vary in many ways, they all have the equal opportunity to experience their last year as Pirates together.” 

As the SGA representatives say every morning, “Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours. Have a great day and Go Pirates!”

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