Pinks, purples, reds and yellows: Annual Color Wars event transforms to fit the online setting

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Photo credit: Greta Irvine

Executive Board members await the announcement for the winners of the first ever Archer Ted Talk Competition in the all-school assembly. This Zoom assembly took place Friday, Feb. 5 to celebrate and conclude the first ever virtual Color Wars.

By Greta Irvine, Staff Reporter

If there couldn’t be a courtyard celebration, there was a Zoom gathering. If a day of on-campus festivities was not feasible, a week of online activities was in store. If the annual tug-o-war did not occur, a never before Ted Talk competition took place. Why? Because the Archer community didn’t let the pandemic suspend tradition.

Announcing this year’s Color Wars event in an email on Jan. 31, President Francesca Cappello prepared the student body, teachers and staff for a week of online festivities, starting on the week of Feb. 1 to 5.

“We’ve been talking to student council for week’s [trying] our best to come up with ways to get people engaged, make people happy and to give people the most fun week possible,” Executive Board member Tove Jegéus said. “And we know that being online is very different from being in person, so we have been trying to come up with hybrid, virtual versions of what we would be doing in person and I think it’s going to be a really fun week.”

The long-established tradition of assigning each grade a color proceeded with the sixth grade as orange, seventh as green, eighth as yellow, ninth as purple, 10th as red, 11th as blue and the senior class as pink. The online setting prompted innovation from students to display their colors all week, diverging from the usual costumes and courtyard decorations.

“Everybody had a colorful Zoom screen, and people were creating Zoom filters or playing dress up and matching their makeup to certain colors,” ninth grade Ted Talk participant Stephanie Harrison said. “Figuring out how to represent our color and just have fun with it really helped us feel connected beyond the screen.”

The fun and joy that Color Wars is supposed to bring was definitely achieved this year despite the challenges online.”

— Stephanie Harrison

Kicking off the week with a mural competition, each grade chose a participant to create a mural incorporating their grade’s colors and themes. Student Council rules forbade purchasing materials, urging students to reach out for safe, collaborative help from their peers. The competition began Monday morning and lasted until Thursday at 3 p.m.. The following day, executive board members presented them for a vote at  the all-school assembly.

“We are a big community, and we like joining all the schoolwide festivities,” sophomore mural volunteer Ava Cherniss said. “So even though one person took the reins on the mural, we were all able to work together and have fun with the project.”

Amid the Friday all-school assembly on Zoom, the most unique Color Wars in Archer history truly [reached] its peak,” as Cappello said in her email, with a first-ever Ted Talk competition. The Ted Talks were improvised speeches where students were encouraged to make up facts in order to argue something absurd.

One participant from each grade was tasked with improvising a speech on a random, comical topic put forth by students in the open chat feature. Participants spoke to a premade slideshow for two minutes live in front of the entire school on Zoom. With three teacher judges watching and topics ranging from why buying bread is illegal to why small dog eyes are scary, participants had to think on their feet, suppress laughter and employ creative thinking to win spirit points for their grade.

“It was great to see everybody presenting on really silly topics and laughing for one second over something just truly hilarious, especially in a time like this where environments can be very serious,” Harrison said. “And I loved all the support I got throughout my speech with a crazy amount of messages in the chat and via text. It was honestly great just to see my sisters coming out and supporting me. It was beautiful.” 

Color Wars culminated with GooseChase, brought back by popular demand. The virtual scavenger hunt app allows grades to team-up and complete a list of tasks under a time limit. Once students completed a task, such as dye your pet in your grade’s color, they submitted a video or photo to earn points for their team. The game opened Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. to create competition in a time crunch. 

“Participation is a big part of Color Wars, and finding activities where many people can participate is hard online,” Jegeus said. “So the GooseChase [was] a really fun scavenger hunt that many people could join in on.”

The online setting did not hinder grade pride and school spirit as attendees of the Friday Zoom meeting came decked out in colorful costumes and spotlighted peers in the chat with heart emojis and shoutouts.

“This week was truly something that has brought us together,” Harrison said. “That’s really what Color Wars is designed to do.”