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Head’s Day Heading in a New Direction

Sue Lee '18

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The beginning of a new school year brings changes to one of Peddie’s oldest traditions, Battle of the Heads. This annual all-school field day consisting of a competition among four teams, DeGray, Seltzer, Green, and Potter, is one that celebrates
the contributions of our former headmasters and kindles school spirit. The newly revamped Battle of the Heads this year brings more ways of participating and instilling
school spirit to Peddie students. Director of Community Life Michael Agosto and co-presidents Brooke Dennison ‘18 and Derek Kost ‘18 ushered in the changes to the system.

“In the spring, I started coming up with ideas that I wanted to try and do if I got elected, and I’ve always thought that Head’s Day could be a bigger thing,” said Dennison. “I was thinking about filling the space during community meeting and how there’s never that much to do. I was like, maybe we can make Head’s Day a yearlong event. I didn’t really think it out that much, it was in the back of my mind. Then I went to Agosto’s house this summer, and he was like, “So I have this idea to run by you.” Then he said the exact same thing. He was like, “I want to make Head’s Day a bigger thing, I think we can bring it into Community Meeting.” And I was like, “wow you actually just read my mind.”

“I was really happy that Brooke had the same exact idea because a part of it was, I always want to be sensitive about students being in charge of things,” said Agosto. “A part of it was I knew I couldn’t just come in and do it, but I wanted to pitch it to Brooke and Derek and if they liked it, let’s run with it. When I told Brooke my idea, she was like oh my god I’ve been saying that for years, which made me happy.”

Agosto and Dennison wanted to make Battle of the Heads not an annual event, but something that was incorporated into the entire year.

“My idea was really about taking Heads Day and spreading little pockets of it throughout the year so that you don’t have to get fired up for a week but you can for an hour or two. Then
having it mean something. So, if you can actually have those games count a little bit, not a lot, but enough to have kids cheer, then I think it raises school spirit,” said Agosto.

“If you increase the competition, it just makes it a bigger event for everyone. The community meeting space definitely needed something new and fresh. It’s also more inclusive to get
every grade involved, [while bringing] out more traditions at Peddie that we don’t really utilize that much. This is for headmasters [who] have done so much for us that we don’t really think about all the time. But now we have “Green” dorm, and we’re starting to see in different ways incorporating what these headmasters have done for us. So by extending Head’s Day and making it a whole year, you can also instill pride in people for what team they have and what headmaster they’re representing, as well as just making it really fun,” said Dennison.

The first thing Agosto, Dennison, and Kost planned was “Spin the Wheel” at the end of the Amazing Race at Peddie On Campus Orientation. By having their Heads Day teams assigned to them at the beginning of the year, new students will have more opportunities to foster team spirit.

“I was like we already have [19] animal groups for POCO. All we have to do is make those 19 groups into 4 heads day groups. Then I thought, how do we do that? Well, we take the
whole groups and have them spin the sorting wheel, then it goes from 19 to 4, and you have kids already into the [Heads Day teams]. Then the returners come back, cheering them in.
That was this vision I had – of hugs and high-fives,” Agosto said.

One way to instill team pride in students, Agosto says, may simply require giving points to students who attend music concerts with their Heads Day shirts. “I’d say 80% of the kids
were going to go to the concert anyway. But to wear your shirt and to have a sense a pride, and brings another 20% of the kids who really don’t want to go to the concert, but want to
get points for DeGray, and then all of a sudden, they’re like, ‘you know what? The concert was pretty good.’ That’s almost like incidental community,” Agosto said.

Another idea is satellite competitions. Whether it be Thursday after study hall or Wednesday after dinner,  through mini-competitions, students can earn team points and foster all the more spirit.

“It can be a debate, I don’t care. I think what we should try to do is have enough diversity in the events, so that every kid can feel like, ‘Oh, I can be good at that,'” continued Agosto. “So it can’t be all sports related, and I think it should be participatory in terms of going to events, but then I’m a killer connect four player. I’d win it for a house. But I wouldn’t play in a chess tournament, because I’m not good at chess.”

In past years, students have claimed that there is a “favoritism” bias that influences who gets to participate in what events. Agosto suggests a new system in order to combat this to create a fair and equal opportunity for all students.

“So, a part of it could also be [that] in order to participate in certain events on Heads Day, maybe you have tournaments to lead up amongst Degray. Let’s say it’s the video game one.
If you have the Degray video game tournament, [then] the winner of the videogame tournament for DeGray will participate on Heads Day. Then that’s a meritocracy, like I
earned my spot. Then it’s not favoritism, [not] “I didn’t get the emails fast enough to sign up,” said Agosto.  “[Heads Day] is not a perfect system. It’s great, but I think we could make it
even better, and that’s Peddie.”

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Head’s Day Heading in a New Direction