Photo credit: Vaughan Anoa'i
Community reflects on process, significance of annual Maypole setup
May 6, 2022
Reporter Lizette Gonzalez conducted Isaac Velasquez’s interview in Spanish and translated it to English for the purpose of this piece.
It takes 100 colorful ribbons, each 37 feet long and individually rolled, to create Archer’s annual Maypole. Each May, the setup of the Maypole begins — a tradition that marks the end of every school year. The Maypole can be seen by all who drive past Archer, and facilities staff member Enrique Montoya said it embodies the feeling of the Archer community.
“I’ve been here 11 years, and it’s always a very unique and rewarding experience. I really like it because people join together for a cause,” Montoya said. “The meaning of the colorful ribbons brings happiness to everyone here. This process is one of my favorites because the work we do to set it up connects us even more to the people who organize it and the students who take time to rehearse the dance.”
It’s really cool to connect the historic symbol of the Maypole to our students. This is the start for me, as my memories of the Maypole will forever be the class of 2022.”
— Samantha Hazell-O’Brien, dean of student life, equity and inclusion
The Maypole setup event invites seniors and their families to come to campus and hammer in each of the ribbons. The event was initially scheduled for Sunday, May 1, but was rescheduled to Thursday, May 5, due to multiple seniors testing positive for COVID-19.
This year will be the first Maypole for Dean of Student Life, Equity and Inclusion Samantha Hazell-O’Brien, who coordinated its setup. Hazell-O’Brien said she spent a lot of time talking to colleagues who have helped set it up before, as well as consulting with facilities members.
“Archer would work with this outside vendor who has been doing it for decades. This year, we are trying to transition to a place where we would train our own team, so we wrote the Maypole story, and we had facilities work to actually erect the Maypole,” Hazell-O’Brien said. “This is the first year where we are doing the whole setup in house. I’ve talked with Enrique [Montoya], and we are all trying our best by accommodating new people and by hearing memories of past Maypoles.”
Additionally, Montoya said that another change to the traditional process of setting up the Maypole has been a shift in using a crane for its installation instead of manpower.
“The man who would come to do it every year decided to get a crane to put up the pole, because it’s dangerous when you have people doing it because anything can happen,” Montoya said. “It’s really the safest way to do it, and the most practical way to do it — it takes no time with it. Our main focus is to make sure it is ready for the parents and students on the day we release the ribbons.”
Facilities staff member Isaac Velasquez has helped with the Maypole process for all 20 years he has worked at Archer. He said that the Maypole is one of his favorite aspects of the school because it provides an opportunity for connection with students and their families.
“The main reason I really like it is because it’s a chance for us to meet the girls’ parents,” Velasquez said. “We help the families who come help set up the Maypole, and we have everything prepared so the families won’t face any difficulties during this cheerful event. It’s as if the enthusiasm builds by the day because of the fact it is such a beautiful and happy event.”
Similarly, senior Layla Huber-Verjan has always linked the Maypole to connection. She said that as a seventh grader at Archer, she never realized the significance of the Maypole, but now that she is a senior, she appreciates the opportunity to close another chapter of her journey at Archer through the tradition.
It’s a great thing to do for everyone, not just the students, because everyone takes a little bit of the Maypole – teachers, families, the staff — even people who drive by the street.”
— Enrique Montoya, facilities staff member
“I think it’s a nice representation of the sense of community we have as a grade. I’m excited to meet everyone’s families; it’s nice to have this activity where families are involved,” Huber-Verjan said. “It’s been hard to think about things I’m excited for because I’m sad about leaving, but the idea of hammering in my ribbon for something that represents the community that is Archer — it’s special that this is something I can do with everyone who has seen me grow up.”
Huber-Verjan also said she is grateful for the behind-the-scenes work Archer staff’s behind-the-scenes work.
“It’s incredibly important to recognize all of the work that facilities do in terms of all the events that happen on campus,” Huber-Verjan said. “That’s why it’s important to micro-affirm the facilities around campus. It’s always nice to greet facilities as a small thank you for all of the hard work they put in to make Archer the way it is. They help us have our memories.”