A letter from the HM Online Olympics organizers


Adam Frommer and Yana Gitelman

Now that no one is asking about your grades in the hallway, or kissing up to upperclass- men in club meetings, how’s a Horace Mann student to compete? Obviously, through our challenges. Moreover, how does one (namely us) get attention without scampering around Katz Library? Clearly, mass emails. Daily. Lastly, how does one (we) get Mr. Garrison to talk to us without a physical open-door to take advantage of (and chocolates to steal)? Why of course, frantic pleading him to ap- prove the mass emails outlined in our above response to question two.
The second TK sent the email on March 9 about school closing, these questions sprang up from the depths of our directionless ambi- tion, true to Horace Mann spirit. We marched down to Registrar Mr. Garrison’s office and asked him politely, “What’s to happen?!?!” We had been planning a scavenger hunt to take place after Spring Break with the world’s least efficient idea factory (the Community Coun- cil). Coronavirus spoiled our plans to spread cheer! We had finally gotten the 3,000 faculty advisors to sign off on the initiative after over a year of working on it, and we were deter- mined that it wouldn’t end up in the world’s largest idea graveyard (CC members’ aban- doned Google Docs). Some spiritual presence wafted over Mr. Garrison’s light-filled room on the corner between Tibbett and 242nd street and at once we knew: this was our duty.

We needed to adapt. Improvise. Overcome. This we did.In our year-long preparation for the afore- mentioned scavenger hunt, we had finalized a several-page-long list of, frankly, riveting challenges all devised for face-à-face fun! As we scrolled through the Google Doc on our phones in Olshan Lobby and silently wept, we realized that many of the challenges could work remotely with a few changes. We agreed to come back to the idea later and planned a FaceTime planning session for some vague future time frame. After a few days of binge-watching The Crown and Love Island UK (highly recommend, by the way), we began to long for the sense of purpose sprinkled with anxiety that fills the halls of Tillinghast. Everyone was bored, and everyone wanted some normalcy. These two factors prompted us to put together HM Online Olympics.
There seems to be an HM tradition where during stressful periods (whether they’re hell weeks or personal conflicts or global pandem- ics), students devote a lot of time to random obsessions that may not feel productive or necessary but are ultimately cool and fun.
In order to detach themselves from the fear and anxiety of stressful situations, some students write poems or plays. Some make playlists. Some organize their rooms. Some exercise. Some write long emails with a kind of unhinged tone to teachers.

For our wacky fulfillment during corona- virus, we thought of some HM-related words and plugged them into an online crossword puzzle maker. At first, we figured that daily puzzles would fill some holes during a spring break where most of us had nothing to do. Then, we planned on only keeping HM Online Olympics up until in-person school resumed in hopes to help retain some community feel- ing amongst us despite our separation—little did we know back then that school would be online for the rest of the year. So, as it hap- pened, we bombarded you all with emails ev- ery day for the next two months. We received some positive feedback from faculty members and students alike, which really fueled our egos. Thank you dearly to anyone who has ever complimented us, we will not forget it. And, thank you for indulging us. In true HM fashion, we wrote this article as a late ad- dition to last week’s humor issue. We know it’s a fully different week, but just pretend today is May 22.

In all seriousness, the HM Online Olympics have played a huge role in keeping us ground- ed and connected to the community. It’s also taught us that making initiatives happen is more accessible than we assume. There can be a lot of hurdles to jump through to cre- ate initiatives both on and off the CC, but it is entirely possible to do things: it just takes a little bit of work. The CC has helped give us a platform and a road map to efficiently put initiatives together, but this goes for non- CC members as well. If you have an idea for an initiative, silly or serious or a mix of the two, you can make it happen! Write out your idea in lots of detail, think of every concern an adult might have, and pre-plan a solution to each one before even showing your initia- tive to the administration. Get a few friends and a teacher on board to make it more fun, and then present the initiative to the adminis- tration. Not to be CC poster children, but we hope to have helped prove to the world of HM students (along with a list of other successful initiatives like “Take Back the Tap,” the Career Lecture Series, and reinstating Chipwiches) that the CC can get stuff done.

Above all else, we hope the initiative had some impact on you. We wish we could have instead watched our friends scramble to find strange objects on campus (as we had original- ly planned to do for the Scavenger Hunt), but we hope that this felt like an apt replacement. We hope you got to at least try a crossword (even if you didn’t finish it) or sent in a fun video. If we, at one point or another, helped fill even a few people’s quarantines with some fun, we’ll be happy with our time spent. We aspire that HM Olympics joins Project X as an annual tradition for years to come, and that future CC members make it their own and use it to keep themselves sane. If anyone has feed- back or requests for next year’s HM Olympics, please don’t hesitate to slide into our First- Classes, Facebook Messengers, Venmos, etc. Please do NOT text us, as that is not a suf- ficiently chaotic mode of communication. Good luck and have fun during the summer!