Senior traditions: will they be brought back, or lost forever?

The Mr. Wildcat competition blurb, as displayed in the 1999 Yearbook.

The Mr. Wildcat competition blurb, as displayed in the 1999 Yearbook.

By Bryan Dionicio, Reporter

As seniors look forward to the end of the semester of high school, there are still some questions about whether old traditions will be returning to WEGO, or remain lost forever.

Back in the day, seniors looked forward to certain annual traditions and activities at WEGO. The senior prank, for example, was a highlight: Chronicle adviser and former WCCHS student Leslie Fireman recalled that the year she graduated, there was talk about moving the principal’s car from one parking lot to another by picking it up and somehow carrying it elsewhere. The idea never came to fruition, and instead, seniors toilet-papered the front of the school.

Senior class trips were another tradition students looked forward to. Even just two years ago, seniors were taken to Six Flags.

“I enjoyed going to Six Flags. It was really amazing and I got to hang out with my friends. It was super fun, [and] my first time ever going to roller coasters. I was a little nervous, but at the end, I had fun. If I could go back, I would love to experience this field trip again,” said former student Ibon Rodrigues.

“[Bring back] Six Flags because we would be able to make our last few good memories with friends,” said senior Keiran Ramzan.

While Activity Director Marc Wolfe explained the Six Flags trip was a substitute for Prom during the pandemic, it has been a long time since the seniors took a class trip. A search through the yearbooks at the West Chicago Public Library did not turn up any evidence of one.

“I used to take students on a field trip to Chicago on the train to the Federal Reserve Bank, the Board of Trade, and usually a business like Boeing or BP. We stopped because of COVID, and I would love to bring it back if these places open again for visitors,” said Social Studies teacher Candace Fikis.

All Night Long was another junior/senior tradition. This event was made for after-prom, and students were locked in at Bowling Green in West Chicago, likely to prevent them from drinking and driving, explained Fireman. There were snacks, pizza, and desserts for everyone, and fun activities like bowling, jousting with sumo suits on, and sand volleyball.

Another favorite annual tradition was the Mr. Wildcat competition. During this event, senior boys participated in a pageant/talent show, sometimes wearing fancy suits, or they would give speeches as part of the event.

“It wasn’t necessarily canceled, but no club has taken the lead on running it. For a few years, Student Council did it, then the drama program took it over. It hasn’t run the last couple of years due to lack of a student group planning it,” said Wolfe.

Letters from parents that featured baby pictures of graduating seniors were once a feature in yearbooks, but they are no longer included in modern editions.

A look through the past yearbooks also indicates senior quotes and letters from parents (accompanied by students’ baby pictures) were once a yearly tradition. While the Wildcat Chronicle did publish a flip book of senior quotes last year, the yearbook has not done so in some time.

“Ms. Jonesi and I took over as the yearbook sponsors last year, and we aren’t sure when or why that tradition ended. We recently heard about our school doing that in previous years and thought it was such a sweet idea! We’re looking into it and hope to bring it back soon,” said Social Studies teacher Brigid Clark.

“Senior quotes give people insight of who you were in high school, if someone is scrolling through our yearbook twenty to forty years from now they´ll read our quotes and have a glimpse of who we were. It would be nice to have,” said senior Itzel Hernandez.

“Senior quotes would be fun to look at in the future,” said senior Isela Borjon.

“I do wish for future seniors to have all these activities, [and] ROAR. The atmosphere was amazing, and being able to connect with someone that we barely just met was fun. Also, the science activity was interesting. We completed it with other schools and it was super fun. I hope the seniors get to experience all the activities that I had,” said Rodriguez.

Senior murals were a beloved activity for the graduating class because they could express themselves through art and other students could see their work.  The murals were organized by Dave Exner, art teacher, and director of the Art Club.

“The graduating class would get together and in the last month or two of their senior year, they would paint the murals. They had one every year for fifteen years, and at some point people in the administration wanted the school to look different, so they had to take them down,” said Exner.

Although the murals were offered to the students who painted them, the school could find no takers for the paintings, which are at least 9 feet in height.

“I disagree with that decision they made because I thought they made the school our own. It was our own students with their own ideas, and they were very well done. They put a lot of effort into them, and that’s one thing I wish they would have kept, but they could probably bring it back if they want to,” said Exner.

Past murals recently made a return – as did numerous displays of student artwork – along the hallway originating at Entrance A.

Exner and Rodriguez want all the activities to be brought back to help seniors look forward to the end of their high school career, and to give them one last tradition or experience.

Another annual tradition that went by the wayside was allowing seniors to select their lockers. Wolfe explained that seniors lined up at 4:00 a.m. to pick their lockers and ensure they were near friends.

The mock wedding is another lost senior tradition that the Family and Consumer Science Department used to host.

As to whether West Chicago Community High School would consider bringing back some of these senior traditions, “most of the things we do would be determined based on whether there’s a student interest. Are there students kind of behind the idea and supporting it? I don’t wanna dictate ideas, you know, as an adult,” said Wolfe.

The school is looking for students to lead the charge in bringing back (or starting new) traditions. To do so, Wolfe said, students need to plan the activity/event through a student organization with a supportive sponsor.

Once they have done the legwork, “we are here to help plan, and make sure it’s successful, and you know figure out logistics and things like that,” said Wolfe.