Op-Ed: Administration Cracks Down on Scavenger Hunt, has it Exposed an Especially Reckless Party Culture
Primetime Senior Editor
Last Friday, in an increasingly routine PSA, Principal Hurwitz came over the loudspeaker to condemn a, ‘Scavenger Hunt,’ happening that weekend involving students, fearful of its potential safety and legal concerns. His message was simple, and to the point, as it was in an email that would be sent home to parents later that day - it had no connection to the school itself, and anyone who took part risked consequences with the police and his administration on Monday.
The ‘Scav Hunt’ is an annual upperclassmen tradition, we learned, that dates back to the fall of at least 2005. It’s a point-based objective, where teams compete against each other that night to complete the most tasks within the given time. They vary in degree of difficulty and place - it’s city wide. It had flown under the radar in its infancy, and was more of a quiet urban legend until in 2014, when seven students in two cars were sent to hospitals after they crashed and flipped on Fillow Street in West Norwalk during the spring installment of the challenge.
Since then school policy has shifted from don’t-ask-don’t-tell to concerned and involved. Emails home urging parents to bar their kids from joining in have dated back to the Koroshetz era. But this year, as he often has in his tenure, Principal Hurwitz assumed a more hands on approach. The Norwalk Police Department was notified, and assured him they would be posted at McMahon that Saturday, as in past years a handful of items on the list have been required at the two high schools in Norwalk.
In the main hallway across from the library, a large poster decorated with solo cups, facts about marijuana and alcohol usage, in large red text, it has the words ‘SAY NO’, impossible to miss. With multiple challenges on the Scav Hunt believed to be centered around just this, one could see how the school would want to try and stop it, and they did.
Fairfield County has the second highest rate of kids who partake in Underage Drinking and Smoking nationwide, per a 2015 survey - as well as one of the highest amounts of instances where Police are called to bust High School and College aged House parties, the highest in the state. It’s safe to say McMahon’s Student body definitely plays a part in that with a consistently exciting scene, but that’s nothing new.
“I’d say our school’s party life is definitely prevalent... lots of people are involved, it’s the tradition in fairfield county. McMahons party scene is super lively and everyone has fun, it’s every weekend, Turn up or transfer.”, an anonymous senior here had to say.
When asked about this hedonistic, fast way of life, Ms. Sullivan was quick to confront the severity. “You (kids) think you’re experiencing the norm. But this is not normal, this is not how everyone is, I think people just want to justify their actions so they blame it on where they live.” she later added “It’s so much more drastic than what you think, when you get to college people will be surprised by what you did when you were in high school, it’s such a bubble here”.
But why? And is it?
Maybe it’s the money. The bigger the house, the bigger the party... the less reaction from the parents, I don’t know. But here’s the thing - teenagers partying has been an issue in the eyes of adults here (and everywhere) long before 2005, and hasn’t gotten any worse since 2014. But the consequences and visibility have. Social Media pages like Barstool Sports, ‘Old Row’ and ‘ImShmacked’ are a new thing, and they’ve cultivated a way of life - fast, fun, bros-will-be-bros, carefree as ever. Just ask Post Malone, a multi platinum face of this movement - who’s last album detailed the endless wild side of fame, with songs like ‘takin shots’, and now has a multi million dollar endorsement with Bud Light to show for it.
Kids being kids doing a scavenger hunt won’t cut it anymore however, it appears, it feels like all the time we hear stories of expulsions from schools, denials of acceptance over the mere, hard to underestimate stupidity of teenagers taking pictures and videos of things probably they shouldn’t be doing, somewhere they probably shouldn’t be, and proudly sharing them with the world - clout comes at a cost. Ironically, in 2016 administration here cracked down on an instagram account with that same “turn up or transfer” as its unofficial slogan, it was full of pictures and videos, some of which were from scavenger hunts in the past, we’re told.
What does one tradition like the scavenger hunt say about the weekend culture at McMahon? Is that way of life uniquely bad here? Has it gotten worse? Is it inevitable? Any concerned educator wants answers, which may not necessarily be the convenient ones here. But can they ever? Even if so, is that their business between 2:15 on Friday and 7:30 on Monday?