Commonwealth School Traditions

Around October of 2005 someone (reasonably) decided that the traditions section of the Commonwealth School Wikipedia page was not encyclopedia material. I would still like to see it around somewhere (that is not buried deep in the cavernous page edit history) so I've restored it to here, with some updates.

Most of the information on this page was collected by students who attended the school between 2000 and 2005. Some of the traditions, such as the Flaming Banana Award date to well before then, others I have no idea. Similarly, some of these may no longer take place.

Clay Brigade

Commonwealth's ceramics studio is on the fifth floor. Clay is delivered to the first floor. There is no elevator. The school found a clever solution: when the clay is delivered at the beginning of each term, everyone in the school forms a line all the way up the stairs from the first floor to the fifth floor and passes the clay up, box by box. In fall 2003 one student dropped a box of clay (25lbs) over the banister, and clay brigade was not used again until fall 2005.

Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week is a group that began in 2003. Students pass funny or interesting things people say to the week's quoter or submit them on the website. At the end of the week, the quoter compiles their favorites into an email to the mailing list. Subscribers vote on the quotes (using Instant Runoff Voting) and the winner, the quote of the week, is reported in the next week's email. At the end of the year, subscribers choose a Quote of the Year by a similar process. These winning quotes are often posted on a bulletin board for students to amuse themselves while waiting in the lunch line.

Senior Awards

Each year, several unofficial awards are given out, usually by the seniors, to underclassmen. They range from relatively normal ones like the "Best Dressed Freshman" to very more peculiar ones like the "Flaming Banana", awarded to the most original freshman.

At the end of each year, the whole school gathers at the end of lunch and the seniors give out the awards they received in past years. Who to give their awards to is entirely up to the award bearer, though the opinion of friends is usually asked. Not every award is given out every year because some years there is no senior with the award to give out. Leadership roles in school groups such as Commonwealth Cares are ceremonially passed on as awards and sometimes new awards are given out. Prospective recipients please note, trying for these awards is very bad form.

Stephen Frug notes:

I graduated from Commonwealth in 1989, and won the Flaming Banana award my Freshman year (which in my case would have been 1986). The award was described as having been around for some time, though I can't say how long. I didn't have to eat any of the banana.
when my senior class gave out the awards, it wasn't up to the award winner -- the entire senior class actually voted. I do recall making a strong pitch for my nominee, and perhaps as a past award winner it carried weight, because she won.
in my time at the school, there were only two other awards: the Exploding Apple award, and the Most Underappreciated Junior award; the others hadn't been invented yet.

Exploding Apple

The exploding apple is given annually to the most well adjusted new sophomore. There were traditionally many new sophomores as many local middle schools ended in 9th grade. Because most of these schools have switched to a middle school system ending with 8th system, the competitors for the smashed apple have become few. In 2006 this became laughable with only one elegible student while in 2007 there were none at all.

As with the flaming banana award (below) there is a process to go along with this award. The receiving sophomore is given a hammer and an apple and gets to try their best to kill the apple. As good hand-eye coordination is rare among Commonwealth School students, the apple is usually missed on the first few tries.

Flaming Banana

The flaming banana is given annually to the most original freshman. The banana is stuck on a skewer set on fire, usually with great difficulty. After it has been dunked in water, the recipient traditionally takes a bite of the extinguished banana, peel and all.

In 2005 Alex George decided to make a break from the past and, instead of making some poor freshman take a bite of charred banana peel, cooked up an (allegedly delicious) banana flamb'e.

Dead Bunny

The dead bunny award is for the most disgustingly cuddly couple. The award is a stuffed animal bunny. The official origin of the award is a passage in Wuthering Heights in which a character sees a pile of small furry animals on a chair and remarks on how cute all the cuddly puppies are sleeping together. At this point the animals are revealed to be not puppies but dead rabbits. The term may or may not be related to the old pregnancy test, described in rabbits in culture and literature.

In 2005 the dead bunny was not awarded. Joshua Hasselkorn stated that the couple who everybody expected to recive it had "gone overboard" in their affection. The "orb of love" for the "most tastefully affectionate couple" was given instead to the married English teachers, Eric Davis and Judith Siporin.

In 2006 the award was, by contrast, given out twice. Tanner and Rachel wanted there to be two in circulation, one in each of the junior and sophmore classes. This was met with some annoyance as the sophmore couple had been properly tasteful and did not deserve the award.

David Pfau Memorial

The David Pfau Memorial Award was created in 2002 by Chris Edley in an altered state of consciousness. Every year, it is given to the junior who most resembles David Pfau, a student, in the Spring of 2002, his junior year. David Pfau was, not surprisingly, the first recipient. The award itself is a paper plate with the title scrawled upon it. Also, if the recipient wears glasses, his/her glasses are removed before the awards and given back as a "prize."

Attention Whore

Created in 2001, this award offers a rhinestone-covered hat as a prize. It was decorated with glittery glue, but that came off in the washing machine. Nominees each stand in a different corner of the assembly hall and do something to seek attention; whomever has the most people looking at them at the end of a certain time gets the prize.

Best Dressed Freshman

This award goes to the freshman with the best inner sense of style. Note that an excellent inner sense of fasion does not always translate into an excellent outer sense. The award is a flannel shirt. There is only one instance of this award, so it is given only every third year.

Cherry Popper

Also known as the "cherry pop tart award", this award is given to the best dressed sophomore virgin who is not expected to remain in that state. This award was thought to have been banned by the administration as "inappropriate", though it is apparently (as of 2007) still given out. The award is a cherry pop tart.

Most Underappreciated Junior

This award, given for reasons clear from the title, is a roll of toilet paper on a stick.

Senior Skits

I added this in spring 2007, but wrote it from memories dating to 2005. So things might have changed.

Around the last week of class or so an assembly is set aside for the seniors to perform senior skits. These skits are written by seniors on their own or in small groups in the week or so before the assembly and membership is determined by the writers of each skit. There's usually some attempt to put everyone in at least one skit.

Most of the skits are based around classes, with seniors pretending to be each other and teachers. Sometimes seniors pretend to be students from other years as well. Costumes are usually minimal, limited to a shirt, hat, or something, and a sign that says who you're playing.

Last updated May 30 2007 by Jeff Kaufman
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