Every year for as long ago as most people can remember, on the final day of the school year, the students in the VIIs to the XIIIs gather in the Ball Yard for the Torch Relay. Each student rounds the bases once while holding a wooden stick with paper flames that looks like a torch. It is a tradition that has a greater meaning, and a long history.
Gino Crocetti, who is the Master of Ceremonies at City and Country, was a student in the 1950s. C&C used to have something called Field Day on the last day of school, “From the time that I was the student until I started teaching here, we had a thing called Field Day in the afterno
on,” said Gino. Field Day had different activities which we do not have today. “There was the obstacle course there was a spoon relay, and there was a three legged race, that is what we did on the last day of school.”
“There would also cut pieces of string and put a lifesaver on the end and kids would suck up the string and eat the lifesaver, it was very unsanitary,” said Ann Roberts, XIIIs Co Teacher.
In 1987, while Gino was a teacher at City and Country, “Janice Miller introduced the Torch Relay as part of Field Day. She felt that it was a good activity because of its symbolism of passing the torch of knowledge.” Janice Miller was the Principle in the 1956-86 school year and the 1986-86 school year.
As far as Field Day, the only remaining part of it now, is the obstacle course. “Over time other parts of Field Day were discontinued both in terms of time, and danger and the number of people,” said Gino.
Another reason they were discontinued is because of the amount of different events and activities during the last few days of school. “It was a lot, there was Games Day, the Sports Banquet, the Spring Fair and Field Day,” Ann said, “People wanted to get rid of Field Day because people would want the time in the morning to say goodbye to their kids.”
At one point, there was no obstacle course either, “The kids particularly the XIIIs were upset because people abolished the obstacle course without consulting them, and they petitioned and got the obstacle course back,” said Ann. “Lulu Viemeister and Natasha Lancaster had a petition to bring it back in 2015, they abbreviated it to the two obstacles courses. One for the Xs, XIs and XIIs in the Ball Yard, and one for the VIIIs and IXs in the Block Yard, both ran by the XIIIs.”
“What we have now is just the obstacle and the torch relay. At one point they wanted to stop the obstacle course but the XIIIs wanted to do it. The Three Legged Race stopped in the 80s because people kept falling and scraping their knees. The Spoon Relay took too long. After several different steps during the years it went to the obstacle course and the torch relay,” Gino said.
Before Gino, Haim Mendelson was the Master of Ceremonies, he was the shop teacher. “When I first came the person in charge was Haim Mendelson, then he passed it to me and I have been it ever since. Field Day has changed a lot. At some point I’ll retire and someone else will take over. I don’t know who did it before Heim and I don’t remember who did it when I was a student,” said Gino. With Gino as the Master of Ceremonies, he has added some parts to the Torch Relay. “With the Torch Relay, I get the torch, I hold it up and declare the school year over. This makes the end of the school year more formal and it is a focused ending.”
The Torch that each student carries while they round the bases is made by Gino. It is wooden stick with brown paper wrapped around the handle, with orange and yellow paper on the top that look like flames. “I made the torch as simple as I possibly could. That’s our general rule we’re not trying to be fancy,” Gino said.
Since Field Day has evolved into the Obstacle Course followed by the Torch Relay, there have been some significant changes to the Torch Relay. “In the beginning, the XIIIs ran first, past it to the XIIs, past it to the XIs, and finally to the VIIs. It is symbolic of older people passing the torch of knowledge to the younger people. However, having the VIIs waiting through the whole thing proved difficult. The order was reversed about 10 years ago, the VIIs go first and pass it up. The symbolism is good because the XIIIs go last and they are going out into the world,” said Gino.
In terms of students opinions on the Torch Relay, “Students seem to think it is satisfying. Graduates seem to find it satisfying, as a way to end their student days,” Gino said.
“As someone who’s graduating, I think it’s a solid tradition to honor the moving up of certain grades, although it’s hot and long, it’s worth it,” said Max Beyer, XIIIs.
“It’s fun but I’m nervous to run,” said Chase Holness, XIIIs.
While the Torch Relay no longer holds the original symbolism of eldest students passing the torch of knowledge to the youngest, it now celebrates the XIIIs exit from the school. This proves to be more efficient in practice, and centers the relay on the people who are running their last Torch Relay. It is a good way to end the school year, and is unique in the focused ending aspect at the end of the relay. It leaves students excited for summer, and some students sad about leaving C&C after the many years they have spent in the same school with the same people surrounding them.