For as long as she can remember Julia Ganley has looked forward to her senior year of high school. She has excitedly anticipated the fall musical, senior week, second semester (when college applications are done and the freedom begins), and the Powder Puff game. Except in Ganley’s case, she can’t participate in one of the traditional senior events that she’s eagerly awaited.
Powder Puff, a football game where the female seniors play and the male seniors cheer, is a tradition at Andover High School. On the day of Powder Puff, the seniors who are participating, which is usually the majority of the class, show their class spirit by sporting the classic team t-shirt paired with outrageous and fun accessories. Though most seniors dress up during the day, not all participate in the Powder Puff festivities later on that night, including the game itself. While her friends and peers keep the tradition alive, playing and cheering with the rest of the grade, Ganley and the rest of the Drama Guild will be acting in the AHS production of Thoroughly Modern Millie, scheduled for the same night.
Mrs. Choquette, the drama director at AHS, believes the reason that the fall musical and a major senior event are scheduled on the same night is because of the Collin’s Center availability. “The problem with finding another weekend, other than Powder Puff, is that December is generally booked every weekend with a Nutcracker ballet,” said Choquette, “and the amount of time that’s really required to rehearse a musical, eight weeks of rehearsals, it means that it typically falls on that particular weekend.”
One would think that after years of scheduling two major events on the same night, somebody would change something, right? Wrong. The game has been going on for over ten years and is always on the weekend before Thanksgiving, as is the fall musical.
Mr. Hutchins, a guidance counselor and advisor for Senior Board, which runs the Powder Puff game, said, “I don’t think they have ever tried to change the date only because it’s a tradition and I don’t know when else we would do it.”
According to Hutchins, the game can’t be after Thanksgiving due to colder weather and it can’t be any earlier because of Friday night football games.
“It’s kind of disappointing because the point of senior events like Powder Puff is to develop school spirit and camaraderie between members of the senior class,” Ganley said, “but when there are conflicting events, then it only permits certain members of the senior class to go to those events and then a whole part of the school, the whole drama department, is missing and they don’t get to participate and the rest of the [seniors] don’t get to bond with those people.”
The kids who really pay the price, according to Choquette, are the students that commit to be in the show but “they know going in that that is a sacrifice they make by auditioning for the musical. It’s a difficult choice but unfortunately we are dictated in the Collins Center by the other events that do come in, which are paid rentals that are the bread and butter of the Collins Center and we can’t turn those things down.”
Ganley and some of her senior friends in the Drama Guild are planning on wearing Powder Puff t-shirts to school on November 22 even though they cannot participate in the actual event that night.
“It’s just a really big, fun event that everybody looks forward to their whole high school career,” Ganley said, “and to know I won’t be a part of it is kind of unfortunate.”
By Alexa Rockwell