Photo by Louis Barnes '19
Story by Ken Viehland '18 and Kevin Murati '18
It's that time of the year again. Mission Week festivities have been celebrated by students and teachers this week and will continue through today. The goal of this year's events has been to raise funds for Puerto Rico's efforts to rebuild after Hurricane Maria.
Since June, STUCO has been hard at work planning all of the events that highlight the week with the hope that the St. Louis U. High community could again put its energy, excitement, and money towards a good cause.
"The planning period for Mission Week was great because STUCO was open to new ideas, and they also did a good job of looking back at ideas from the past," said Spanish teacher and STUCO moderator Kate Toussaint. "We had a lot of work even before the seniors left, and while the seniors were gone, the freshmen, sophomores, and juniors really stepped up. They designed all the clothing and did a really great job with that. It helped me that I had my two senior classes gone because I was able to focus more time on planning the little things that come up."
Students will notice a result of this year's planning was the streamlining of the schedule for the week. As opposed to last year when there were multiple notable activities for each day, this year has seen one big event anchored to each day.
Although there were no classes, Mission Week officially started off on Monday night with a more subdued event. The Commons was transformed into a coffee house with music, poetry, and plenty of coffee and tea.
STUCO president Jack McGrail, one of the most notable architects of the week, was pleased with how everything played out.
"The coffee house really started Mission Week off with a bang," said McGrail. "I think it went really well and it definitely got us off on the right foot."
While many people took the stage to present poetry, a highlight for many was English teacher Chuck Hussung, who helped organize the evening as well.
"I enjoyed myself tremendously. I knew that it would make me happy to hear music being made, poetry being cherished, and to be with people who were drawn to music and poetry," said Hussung.
Hussung was slated to perform two poems, one he composed called "Without Rock, No Chalk" and another by Christian Wiman named "My Stop Is Grand." Hussung also participated in the part of the night set aside for unplanned presentations.
"The loose, spontaneous spirit of the event is part of what makes it so special. We called for some random performances, and in that spirit, I read the prologue for Act II of Romeo And Juliet," said Hussung.
While he was certainly happy to have the evening go so well, that didn't stop him from turning an eye towards what the future holds. Hussung sees the event as something that can be expanded in the future.
"Next year we would like to do an acting scene from the speech team, a quartet from the choral music department, and perhaps an improv sketch. There's room for prepared performances to have a slightly larger role," said Hussung.
There was no shortage of appreciation for Hussung's hard work. Students seemed to thoroughly enjoy the time they spent in the converted Commons and had only good things to say.
"I'll never pass up an opportunity to see Mr. Hussung bless the community with poetry," said senior Nick Patritti. "It was just a really awesome evening."
With classes resuming Tuesday, events were finally able to occur during the school day. The dress down theme for Tuesday was dress like a teacher, and the marquee event was a car smash. Students gathered around a classic Buick Regal as their peers beat the car into a shell of its former self. There was a threat of weather problems, but fortunately the event was held as planned.
"We were pretty lucky the rain held off, because like last year this was a fun time," said McGrail. "I think everyone was entertained to see their classmates take all their anger out on the car."
While most of the event went as planned, one small hiccup occured when senior Michael Llewellyn cut his hand while he was hitting the car. Despite the injury, he loved the event.
"I had a great experience with the car smash and felt like it was offered a great chance to show our SLUHbrotherhood and pride," said Llewellyn. "Although the car smash proved to get the best of me, I do not regret a single moment of it because I felt the energy of my brothers behind me. Also, I saw the compassion of everyone around me as they took care of me to get me the proper treatment for my injury. I'm glad STUCO decided to do this again and hope they continue to do it in the future while adapting little parts each time."
Tuesday also saw the opening of the Switch Bar located at the old switchboard. This Gadfly-run soda bar has been open all week and was actually inspired by a past Mission Week.
"We were talking in the Gadfly room about how this was done a few years ago, and we wondered why it ever stopped since it was such a great idea. We found some furniture that wasn't being used, got some soda, and set everything up," said junior Tate Portell, a member of Gadfly who is working the bar.
The drink station has proven quite popular with students. Part of the popularity is due to the fact that Ski is offered. For sophomore Josh Sisul, the availability of drink has made the bar a memorable part of Mission Week.
"It's a pretty nice place," said Sisul. "I like that I can get Ski there, which I don't get very often. It's been one of the highlights of the week and I hope we see it again next year."
Wednesday saw a College dress down theme and during Actvity Period, an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast from Chris's Cakes. The pancake breakfast has been a staple of Mission Week, but the timing of the event has been refined to allow students to get the most out of the meal.
"This was my favorite pancake breakfast because we were able to have it during Activity Period," said McGrail. "For a lot of people who don't like to get up early, this was their first opportunity to try it."
Although the food was delivered as promised, many students agreed there was one place where improvement was needed: the wait time.
"Overall I thought the breakfast was a good event. The pancakes were amazing, but the wait was pretty long. It was probably a little over 10 minutes," said junior Jack Klos.
STUCO had planned a way to tackle the long wait times, but unfortunately their plans fell through at the last minute. However, there is confidence this won't be an issue again.
"We were supposed to be getting two grills, but things got mixed up and we only ended up one which is what caused the line to be a little long," said McGrail. "I know the plan is for next year to have two and I don't see why that wouldn't turn out to be the case."
Thursday was centered around head shaving at Activity Period, with the dress down theme being jersey day. Math teacher Stephen Deves and science teacher Bradley Mueller saw their hair styles changed to mullets after the school raised over $1,018 for their new looks. Several students also saw their heads shaved for donations, including sophomore Ray Bulte.
"It was scary, because I didn't want to get it shaved off. But I figured that it was for a good cause and I don't really need my hair anyway," said Bulte. "When Mr. Deves announced he was shaving his head I told him to sign me up sarcastically, but he said he would and actually signed me up. Honestly I'm glad I did it and I'll probably do it again next year."
McGrail was also very happy with how the event went.
"Head shaving was awesome, and Mr. Deves and Mr. Muller did a great job promoting and participating in it. Out of all of our events so far that's definitely the one that raised the most money," said McGrail.
Today students will be seeing a performance by Extraordinist Craig Karges, who he will attempt to read students' minds. Although it is unknown what exactly will happen due to the nature of the show, McGrail is optimistic for a good performance that the school community can participate in.
"I'm really excited for the show because the whole school gets to experience it together. I think everyone will be impressed at what they see," said McGrail.
While there is no direct cost for a student to watch, there will be a suggested donation of five dollars to support the missions.
All in all, the week has been a huge success, with plenty of good memories created. Many students shared their favorite moments and their hopes for the future.
"I've thoroughly enjoyed this Mission Week," said freshman Tommy Pollard. "My favorite activity so far was the head shaving. After this year, I'm definitely looking forward to three more."
"I'm enjoying this Mission Week a lot, more than even last year's," said sophomore Mark Indelicato. "I like that there is one big activity a day and not a bunch on one day so I won't have to miss anything. So far, my favorite activity was the car smashing. Honestly I hope future Mission Weeks are similar to this one."
"My favorite activity so far was the car smashing, which I participated in. I smashed the hood," said junior John Decampi. "I do miss how in the past there were multiple events everyday, but this one is still great. I'm looking forward to next year's mission week, where I really hope they add a pumpkin smashing activity."
"My favorite activity this year was the bake sale. I'm just a cookie guy and it's always fun to get some cookies. The boys get all riled up for cookies. I think the car smash is starting to become a classic now. This year's Mission Week has its pluses and minuses, but it's definitely got its own character," said senior Dominic Watkins.
"We felt it was better to focus our energies on doing one thing really well each day and getting the word out, and I think it's been really successful," said Toussaint.
"This is my last year working with STUCO, and for me this has been my favorite mission week. I think it's because we are doing one big event a day," said Toussaint.
"It's just been a really fun Mission Week," said McGrail. "What's more to say?"