Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 50
 
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
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An All-Princeton Dodgeball Event Turns Out To Be an All Out Success

Matthew Hersh

A gigantic all-Princeton event has awakened school administrators, parents, and students to an essential truth: that good clean fun can be, in fact, fun — even in playful combat. The event? A dodgeball tournament. The weapons? Nerf balls. The assailants? Hundreds of participants — eight of whom walked away with a six-foot-four-inch trophy — were already asking when the next event would take place.

While Corner House, the counseling center for teens and young adults, sponsored the tournament, it was the organization’s student board, made up of students from PHS, the Hun School of Princeton, Princeton Day School, and Stuart Country Day, that came up with the idea after organizing numerous events throughout the year, including a middle school hypnotist and game show, as well as a high school-level a cappella concert, and the upcoming all-city middle school dance. The student board members, all high school seniors, and already mired in the depths of what a high school senior year can bring, actively brainstorm for new events, and in the process, bring students from all Princeton schools together — something that, up until recently, was only prevalent in interschool sporting activities.

Last year, the Corner House student board did try to put together a dodgeball competition, but only eight PHS teams participated. This year, something clicked.

PHS senior and Corner House board member David Staller, who took a lead in organizing the event, said “we just knew that we could get a bunch of kids out, not only to participate, but also to watch.” While the 44 combined teams resulted in over 350 participants, the overall number of spectators virtually equaled the number of students on the floor, packing nearly 650 people into the PHS gym.

Since this current student board is also the largest in Corner House history, the increased school representation commensurately opens the door for increased activity, said Carter Haughton, a PHS senior and student board member. “The structure of the board this year allowed for us to put in the extra effort in getting all schools involved; even Stuart — an all girls school — had two teams there.

“Everyone wanted to participate,” Ms. Haughton said. “It was great to watch everyone come out and interact.”

“Kids in this town want things to do, and want to have an option to do something other than be in someone’s house, or drinking,” said Gary De Blasio, Corner House director, echoing Mr. Staller’s point that spectatorship was imperative. “They just want to applaud for each other — and even when teams were eliminated, people stayed to watch the outcome.” The event ended after 11 p.m., with hundreds of students still on hand to take part in the celebration. Even the PHS custodial staff was amazed, said Princeton Alcohol and Drug Alliance Chair Wendy Jolley, noting that most of the students cleaned up after themselves. “That’s just what they do — these are good kids,” she said.

PDS, incidentally, took home the trophy, and while PDS students pride themselves on this achievement, the event itself and the fact that the whole thing went off without a hitch, was the real triumph here.

“The student board as a whole spent a good amount of time studying the various aspects of the event, looking over what we needed to do and what we have done,” said James Cole, a PDS senior. Mr. Staller quickly added that the entire 15-member student board was needed the evening of the tournament: “Everyone played an equally supporting role here.”

Event planning, as one would expect, is not necessarily the strong suit for a bunch of high school seniors, and the tournament did have some glitches, Ms. Haughton said, but all of them were addressed and none of them was fatal. “Everyone was so well-behaved, I don’t think the police knew what to do!”

And what did everyone do after the tournament was complete? They went to Hoagie Haven, an all-Princetonian rite.

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For more information on Corner House and related activities, go to www.cornerhousenj.org, or call (609) 924-8018.

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