Day Students Come Out Strong for Willympics

Day+Students+Come+Out+Strong+for+Willympics

At the recent Willympic events, a record number of day students came storming onto Sawyer Field ready to compete.

After a couple years of not having their own team, day students were given the ability to have a separate team for this year’s Willympics. For the first night of events in the all-school competition, day student participation was higher than ever. Day students from middle school to senior year showed up in coordinating camouflaged outfits, blasting music as they ran onto the field.

Day students and each dorm on campus have their own team in which they compete in a multitude of activities that range in category and ability. Some of these activities include a Spike Ball game, musical chairs, and “riddle-me-this.”  Day students came prepared to the games with a painted banner, a can-do attitude, and a mentality set on wining.

Sarah Markey, a day student and leader of the Wildestcats, the student-led activities group who works to plan Willympics, believes strong student leadership was the reason behind a large day student turnout.

“I think participation is greater this year than in past years because the senior class is just so strong,” Sarah, who is also the Senior Class President, said. “There are so many day students in the senior class who really love Williston and care about the community. The seniors have been leading by example, which has drawn participation from other grades.”

She also credits Covid restrictions last year for high participation. After missing out on all of last year’s fun activities, students want to be a member of the community and engage in all of the fun activities.

In past years, there had been a boy and a girl day student team; however, numbers for both teams were extremely low so administration moved to disassemble both of those teams, giving day students the option to join a dorm.

Erin Davey, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Community Life, is in charge of planning Willympic events. She didn’t feel great about the decision to get rid of a day student team altogether.

“It didn’t feel right, it didn’t feel good that the day students weren’t their own team,” she said.

The first night of competition was Saturday, Sep. 18. Before the start of Willympics this year, Davey spoke with a couple day student seniors for their opinion on the matter, and they initially decided to have day students join a dorm’s team. However, Davey thought more about the decision and realized it was not the best choice for fostering an inclusive environment. Knowing that a change needed to be made, it was officially decided day students would have their own team.

Davey was pleased with the level of participation and credits it to great senior leadership.

“It’s always leadership; when there is a strong contingent of upper school leadership, and people who can help organize, get materials, make things happen — teams are only as good as their leadership,” she said. “And so I felt like the senior, upperclassmen leadership was really, really strong this year.”

While Sarah was more than pleased with the level of participation, she was skeptical at first.

“I was really worried about getting students to participate because I know how low participation had been in past years,” she said. “But when we made a group chat with seniors and some other students, people just started adding their friends and there was a lot of enthusiasm to be a part of this event.”

Although many took part in the activities, it proved to be a challenge for Sarah to organize everyone.

“It was pretty hard to find time to meet and plan the banner and the outfit and everything just because we’re not a unified group by where we live, so people have different practice schedules and that made it a little bit difficult,” Sarah said. “But by committing to a time and place, students, many of whom were seniors, showed up willingly to help coordinate outfits, paint the banner, and decide which students would be participating in which events.”

When planning Willympic events, the addition of a non-boarding team proved not to be an extra challenge. Rosie Crooker, a boarder in Memorial East and a leader of the Wildestcats, had no extra obstacles when planning the activities.

“The addition of the day student team doesn’t make planning the event any harder for the Wildestcats, but I can imagine it is hard for day students to meet and plan for the event,” Rosie said.

Not only were day students excited  they could compete, but boarders were also excited that their fellow classmates could have their own team. Rosie is thrilled to see day students competing separately.

“I am so excited that we have a day student team in Willympics,” she said. “Seeing all the day students rally together was so exciting, and I can’t wait to see how they do in the lip sync. As a boarder, I’m honestly a little bit intimidated.”

However, there are some concerns that the day student team is at a disadvantage. Sarah realizes that it is slightly more difficult to not have a set time or place to meet.

“I do think we have a little bit of disadvantage as the only team not associated with the dorm just because we don’t have a dorm parent to help us plan and we also don’t really have time to meet,” she said. “I also think because it’s really not required if you are a day student, that does give us a disadvantage compared to the dorms who have a required participation.”

While she has her concerns, Sarah also realizes her team’s advantages.

“We do have an advantage as the day student team because we have so many more numbers, we have boys and we have girls, and there are just so, so more many day students,” she said.

Davey is not worried that the day student team will be disadvantaged, and in fact believes the opposite.

“If done right, you actually have an advantage because you have across all ages, across all genders, across all areas of Western Mass.,” she said. “And you have bigger numbers, so in actuality, so if done right, you are actually at an advantage.”

All teams will compete at the next Willympic event at a date that is to be determined: the lip-sync competition. Teams will have to choreograph a dance to music of their choice, while lip-syncing to the whole song.