Houses finish year with games

“Ferret pride!” A pint-sized seventh grader yelled, sprinting down a hallway.

“Ferrets are going to win the saltine cracker eating contest because they are all really fat,” a voice squeaked after him.

And so the trash-talking continued.

In fact, it was Badger Eli Moghavem ’10 who won the first round of saltine-cracker-eating with 23 crackers and no fluids in five minutes. Attendance and Health Coordinator Brenda Simon, a Ferret herself, stood by Moghavem and his competitors in case one of them started choking. Afterward she was going to compete in her own event.

“That thing with the ball,” Simon said.

Last Friday, middle school students and faculty members competed in 15 “Field Day” events from crosswords to three-legged math relays to water balloon tosses, scoring their last points of the year as Otters, Badgers, Ferrets and Polecats.

A former administrator and namesake of the award, Barbara Jacobson will present the Jacobson Cup to one of the four House Commissioners in a final award ceremony today.
Without the Field Day, Polecat Commissioner Josh Budde said, everyone would already know who won.

“This way everyone is given a chance,” he said. “It’s a nice dramatic event.”

Two years ago Budde and Elizabeth Ilg, a French and math teacher, started discussing end-of-the-year events in which they had participated at schools in the past.

“The idea just built momentum after that,” Ilg said.

Along with the concept of the house system and the division of all citizens of the Middle School into Otters, Badgers, Ferrets and Polecats came the goal to bring together students, faculty and staff who wouldn’t have otherwise met.

“It’s such a big place,” Ilg said. “We came up with house system so that kids could intermingle, and this is the culminating activity.”

The four House Commissioners, Budde of the Polecats, Dean Jon Wimbish of the Badgers, Athletic Director Darlene Bible of the Otters and Ilg of the Ferrets, made sure to plan many events, both athletic and non-athletic, for Field Day.

“It’s not just the Quidditch Cup, and that’s it,” Ilg said.

“The saltine cracker event is just bizarre,” Budde said.

Five, three, two and one points were awarded to the first, second, third and fourth place teams, respectively, in the four rounds of each event.

“We said that participation was mandatory,” Budde said, and he estimated that about 75 percent of middle school students and faculty signed up for events.

Though rumors swirled among students that detention was imminent for anyone who didn’t sign up, the commissioners didn’t plan any punishment. Instead,  they tried to just stress the value of high participation.

“The Badgers have to win a whole heck of a lot of events,” Budde said about the team that trailed in fourth place with 58 points before Field Day began.

Wimbish, decked out in an orange visor, orange board shorts and a shirt emblazoned with “Badgers” in orange, seemed to have no shortage of pride for his last-place team.
Before the events began, the Otters were in the lead with 97 points, the Polecats had 93 and the Ferrets were in third place with 85.

Otter and yearbook adviser Jen Bladen ran around plastering the school with otter posters.
“I know I’m being a dork,” she said.

The final points for today’s ceremony weren’t tallied until a few days later.
“It’s just about the day,” Ferret and Community Service Coordinator Victoria Goddard said on Field Day.

“There is a lot of positive energy, even more than we expected,” Budde said.

Though there are no plans to change next year’s house System and Field Day, minor changes are inevitable as commissioners Budde and Wimbish are leaving the Middle School.

English teacher Michael Chavez will succeed Budde, and history teacher Rosemary Clark will succeed Wimbish.

Ilg hopes to discuss retaining House affiliations with ninth graders after the award ceremony, and eventually with the upper school Student Government.

However, there are no immediate proposals for expansion of the house system or Field Day to the Upper School, Director of Studies Deborah Dowling said.

“But if there is student demand, Wimbish will be at the Upper School,” Dowling said. “We have a link.”
As Wimbish ran by, still a vision of orange, Moghavem strutted over to two Polecats in robes and painted sweatbands.

“Badgers owned you guys.”