“Hotchkiss Seniors”

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Chinese, Manchurian
Age: 19
Occupation: Student
Residence: Plymouth, Minnesota
Date of Performance/Collection: April 17th, 2013
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Chinese

There are separate things for juniors about to be seniors, and then for seniors about to graduate.

Juniors becoming seniors, we did senior dinner. It’s not super memorable or anything… First, all the girls get really dressed up and we take pictures on senior grass. We all just get assigned tables set up on the senior grass, each table with one faculty member and we all eat dinner… and there’s a couple of student performances, like dances/singing, that kind of thing… It’s happy; it’s basically the formal event where everyone gets stoked to be seniors…

When it’s the night before graduation, the graduating seniors do confessions and senior streaking.

We sit in a bigger room together and have “confessions,” where everyone can just say what they wanna say. We’re in this big room in a circle, and everyone takes a turn presenting whatever it is they wanted to say. It can be a confession, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be anything someone needs to get off their chest before graduating. And everyone sits around and listens, surprisingly respectfully. Then right after the confession is when we do senior streaking…

Senior streaking—so everyone runs around butt naked. It’s very bizarre. Everyone (participants aka seniors, and spectators aka everyone else) just kind of knows it’s gonna happen, but they just pretend like it’s not… And then we get on senior grass—we have a patch of grass that’s just for seniors—and then we take off all our clothes together, at the same time, then we all run in a loop around campus together, like by every dorm… and everybody else in the dorms is watching. And then once we’re done with that loop, we all go back to our respective dorms. And it’s awkward because everyone has seen us naked now… but it’s the night before graduation, so the question of “who cares?” is already implied.

 

How did you come across this folklore: “This is a boarding school tradition, but I don’t know if it’s just Hotchkiss that does it.”

Other information: “I don’t know how people find out about these, but they’re some of those things where your participation is mandatory and somehow you manage to a) find out about it in time, and b) go through with it, maybe because you just have to.”

This is another senior ritual, of which there are probably a virtually infinite amount, that emphasizes the liminal period between seniors and non-seniors, between high school and the “real world.” During this time period, it becomes more acceptable to do things that are otherwise tabooized in society (for example, streaking…), leniency toward seniors increases, and they are able to bond through crossing these societal boundaries.