A Puppet With Two Masters: Looking Back on Five Weeks of Civil War
After failing to reach a ceasefire agreement for mid-semester testing week, rebel forces closed in on Katz Library at 5:09 AM last Wednesday in a surprise attack, completely overwhelming all defensive forces (travelling with a delegation sent in to secure exclusive rights to Head Librarian Caroline Bartels’ supply of Cheez-Its™). This offensive began the fifth week of the longest war on campus, a conflict that has torn apart homerooms, friendships, and even the Model UN team.
The war’s origins have taken on a mythic gravity that stirs both sides to arms, student historian and president of the Southern Northwestern Territories during the Early Reconstruction Era History Club (SNTEREHC) William Bucksworth (8) said. These origins can be traced back to a dispute between The Horace Mann Ventriloquist and The Marioonette, he said.
Early last month, The Ventriloquist, the school’s bi-equinoctial ventriloquism publication founded by Fiona Lu (9), after an extensive debate and voting process by the Editorial Board, proclaimed itself to be the school’s premier puppetry publication in an editorial.
Upon reading The Ventriloquist’s editorial, The Horace Mann Marioonette, a marionette publication founded by Jamie Rubenstein (9), published its own editorial, claiming that it, in fact, was the school’s premier puppeteering publication. “We have the better name and logo and would appreciate it if [The Ventriloquist] retracts their statement, which is wrong,” The Marioonette wrote.
The Ventriloquist, in yet another editorial, said The Marioonette was baseless in its accusation. “Besides, [Rubenstein] hands out junior editor positions like they’re a virus,” the 473-page editorial read. An anonymous writer for The Marioonette later wrote in an opinion piece that Rubenstein had actually denied him a junior editor position “because he was in the hospital on a press night, but he definitely had it coming.”
Shortly thereafter, The Ventriloquist seceded from the school, christening itself as the rightful successor of Horace Mann. Rebel forces occupied Fisher Hall and fighting began — first confined between the two clubs, but soon spreading throughout the entire school. “Within a week, you were no longer just a student, but a Marioon or a Ventriloquist,” Bucksworth said. “If you told people you went to Horace Mann, they would ask, ‘Which one?’”
Speaking to a summit of belligerent forces at the Spence Courtyard Demilitarized Zone, Head of School Tom “Machine Gun” Kelly urged both sides to continue following CDC health guidelines and uphold the school’s Core Values while fighting. “While you may be at war, I want you all to remember that you all belong to a larger community, and that you need to remember to keep your masks on except when eating, drinking, or making inspirational pre-battle speeches,” he later wrote in an email. “I am blown away by how many of you showed Mutual Respect to your wounded soldiers and demonstrated Mature Behavior and led a Life of the Mind on and off the battlefield.”
“You know that fighting a war won’t get you into college, right?” Executive Director of College Counseling Cahn Oxelson said, ducking below a projectile from a seventh grader’s rocket launcher.
Students have been using the war as an opportunity to explore their interests while taking on leadership positions. Recently, both sides have contracted with Lower Division clubs to provide armaments for the war, Tanks for Thanks club founder Jerry Smith (11), said. The club subcontracts Lower Division arts classes to make tanks, fighter jets, and battleships, art teacher Sheila Ferri said. “The students have been discovering what amazing creations they can make with their own two hands, teamwork, and military-grade aluminum.”
Tanks for Thanks obtains blueprints for military vehicles from an undisclosed source in eastern Europe and shipping, and the kindergartens are tasked with translating the instructions. “The students love piecing together the Cyrillic alphabet and experimenting with power tools,” Ferri said. “It’s so rewarding to see their faces when they finally build something that actually shoots.”
However, many students find the wartime environment stressful, Head of Guidance and Counseling Em Pathy said. “While teachers have been trying to stick to the 45-minutes-per-subject guideline so long as control over the library is disputed, it’s come to my attention that some assign more than others,” he said.
As the war enters a fifth week of bloody stalemate, students should take a moment to reflect on what they are fighting for, Kelly said in his Spence Cottage Address. In a speech to her forces, Commander of the Ventriloquist Army’s Fifth Airborne Battalion Sarah Levitt later said, “Remember the comrades you have lost, sure. Do remember the spoils yet to win. But in the end, it’s not about the friends who come and go, not even the stars that cease to glow. For even in our graves our hearts are not maroon and white, nor are our bodies Ventriloquist dummies and Marionette dolls. Fight for your glory, fight for tomorrow, but there is more than just that in life. Lord almighty,” she said, her voice then dropping into a spine-chilling pianissimo, “your actions today are a matter of what you’ll put on your Common App™ tomorrow.”