The lush green grass glistens under the warm sun’s rays, shining through the trees onto the green. Seniors can be seen chatting, laughing, and enjoying one another’s company. Some play frisbee, football, or other games, while others just relax and soak up the sun. Beyond just a place to unwind, the senior green also allows seniors to make long lasting memories. Seniors take pride in their privilege of being able to go on the green, giving the occasional remark for an underclassman to get off. We wait patiently for our time as seniors to be able to walk it freely and to call the green ours.
However, the harmless tradition we students know today was once very different. Instead of a senior just telling you to get off or rolling their eyes at you, underclassmen faced serious consequences for stepping foot on the green.
Throughout the years, the tradition has changed drastically, but the green remains an integral part of the KO experience, especially for seniors. While we all know the senior green and pass by it every day as we rush from class to class, the origins of its traditions and importance are unknown.
I set out to talk to a few teachers who know the senior green well: those who attended KO decades ago and returned to teach here. English teacher David Hild graduated from KO in 1980. He explained to me what would happen during that time if you would step on the green if you weren’t a senior. “Often they would get tied to the flagpole or things like that,” he said, surrounded in his office with memories from his time at KO. “There were lots of chasing kids and yes, it was competitive in some ways. Kids got caught.”
During Mr. Hild’s time at KO, there were X periods that aren’t around today, where the whole school was free. During these periods, kids would attempt to run across the green without getting caught.
Just like today, Mr. Hild remembers at times being invited onto the green by a senior to walk across the green. That said, he doesn’t quite know exactly when the tradition started, just that it must’ve started before his first year at KO, which was 1975.
Another teacher who attended KO and has returned is creative arts teacher Greg Scranton, who graduated in 1994. He sat at his desk, relaxed, with a camera on display, reminiscing on his experiences with the senior green. He had older sisters at KO, and he explained that when he was here, underclassmen could be invited on, similarly to Mr. Hild’s experiences, but the senior green was very exclusive if you weren’t invited. He described it as a battle ground line, that if you stepped over that line, you were fair game for seniors.
He vividly remembered the first nice spring day of his freshman year: During an X period, the freshman boys all agreed to run across the green. “You’d kind of like look to your left and to your right, and then some brave soul would run, and all the seniors would try to tackle that person,” Mr. Scranton said. “Then everyone else would run, so if you got caught, usually you got a couple of punches in the arm or a wedgie. Occasionally, they would attach your pants to the flagpole and string you up a little bit.”
He remembers the tradition then sounding harmless and fun, but now looking back, it sounds insane, like something out of a movie. “Yeah, I was terrified,” he said. “It was scary because when you’re a little guy and they’re these big seniors, you know, like they want to pummel you, if you even set foot on that.”
Similarly to Mr. Hild, he doesn’t know how or when the tradition exactly started, but hypothesized that it started at the Kingswood School, the original all boys school. He also remembers the administration shutting down the dangerous tradition after someone got injured as a result of running across the green.
The most recent KO graduate I spoke to was history Department Chair David Baker who went to KO from 2001 to 2004. In 2001, when he was a new sophomore, it was the last year that freshman ran the green. In Mr. Baker’s junior year the tradition changed. “We got a new Dean of Students, Ms. McKee, and it was clear that the Middle School was going to be joining us by junior year, since they were building the Middle School,” he said. “I think the school smartly realized that with the Middle School merging on campus, that tradition couldn’t stay anymore because of freshmen running and seniors chasing them and sometimes hanging them from a flagpole or pulling on their pants. It wasn’t gonna fly anymore.”
Contrasted to both Mr. Hild’s and Mr. Scranton’s time at KO, only seniors were allowed on the green when Mr. Baker was a student. The green was clear cut for seniors only, and no one could be invited on. He remembers sometime between 2010 and 2012 that changed, with senior prefects starting to invite their freshmen onto the green with them. This morphed the tradition we know now that allows underclassmen to enjoy the green if a senior invites them. Similarly, Mr. Baker is unsure of the origins of the senior green tradition.
Mr. Hild, Mr. Scranton, and Mr. Baker all remember the green being an enjoyable space to hang out and relax with friends during free periods. Today, the tradition has continued to stay most similar to Mr. Baker’s experiences. On pleasantly warm days seniors are seen gathered on the green, unwinding between classes, enjoying the days before graduating. You can be invited on the green, and you also no longer have to worry about being physically attacked going on the green if you step foot on it as an underclassman. However, we avoid it to respect the seniors, waiting our time to call it ours.
Seniors are currently upset due to fences and signs around the green telling everyone to stay off. With their high school days ever counting down, seniors are anxious that they aren’t able to enjoy the green, but Mr. Baker said that will be changing very soon. “I heard yesterday they’re going to open it to seniors next week,” he said, “but they’re just trying to make sure it’s really, really healthy.”
With the days growing warmer and with the green soon opening up, seniors will be seen consistently on the green until the end of school. The green stands the test of time, and even though we all know the green and its current rules, it seems none of us quite know its full story.