Written by Grace Gonsalves
Graphic By Jane Wilson
In spring, it is not uncommon to sight Las Lomas upperclassmen hiding behind bushes and shooting peers with Nerf guns. There was uncertainty if the game of assassins would return this year due to the pandemic, but in March of 2021, an account popped up on Instagram titled “Las Lomas Assassins 2021,” and upperclassmen started signing up and paying per usual.
It’s a mystery how long this game has been played at Las Lomas, but here is the gist. Students form teams of three and do not know who the other teams and players are. The game is played in rounds, one round a week, and each round, the number of points necessary to complete the round increases. Each “life” is one point and each “kill” is three points, and players stay alive by avoiding Nerf bullets and are “assassinated” if shot by a Nerf bullet.
This year is like no other. Senior Mason Reese, who is one of the commissioners this year, commented on how the game has changed due to the pandemic: “We have enforced a rule that you HAVE to have proof that you were wearing a mask. May that be a picture, a video or the other team vouching for you.” Mason Reese and Roxy Schneider are co-commissioners for the game this year, and since The Page does not interview its own staff members, Mason Reese explained the process without input from Schneider: “Well first we had to create the Instagram [account] and get the word out. Then we had to collect the money and everyone’s info for teams. We split the money 50% for first, 20% for 2nd, [and] 30% for commissioners. We then have to assign teams and who they hunt. The first night we did all of that. We started at around nine and ended at around 2:50am. Now we have to confirm kills, diffuse disputes and eventually decide the winners.”
In the spring of 2020, commissioner alum Josh Morgan chose senior Amy Moura as the commissioner for the 2021 game. Reese described the start of the game this year and said, “We saw that a ton of other schools had been doing assassins so we took it upon ourselves to start our school’s.”
The consensus of most students was that they were happy that the game returned despite the pandemic. Senior James Ergood described to me why he is playing this year and said, “I’m playing assassins [because] this senior year has been pretty uneventful with COVID and assassins somewhat breaks up the monotony of life.” Senior Ani Jamgotchian responded similarly and said, “I am playing assassins because it’s a fun way to participate in school events while staying distanced.” Senior Andrew Ergood commented that he was playing due to the lack of senior activities this year, “I figured with the lack of a senior year I had to get in as many activities as possible.”
Other students have opted out this year, including senior Reilly Thomas, who described that she decided not to participate due to the pandemic: “I’m not participating in assassins because I wasn’t sure how they were going to do it with COVID.” Others didn’t participate due to friends who were concerned about the spread of the virus, including senior Maya Rassai, who said, “I am not because my friend group isn’t this year, so we couldn’t form a team.”
All students interviewed agreed that it is more difficult to make “kills” this year due to Zoom school. This article was written before the start of hybrid learning scheduled for March 15th, and so the following comments may not remain true after publishing. On this subject, Jamgotchian said, “Compared to last year it’s a lot harder because people don’t leave their houses anymore making killing others very hard.” James Ergood agreed and said, “It’s way harder now that people don’t go to school.” His brother, Andrew Ergood, went into more detail and said, “Last year it was way more difficult because I had to leave school and people could easily follow [me] out. Now that people are at home, [I am] much safer but for the same reason it’s harder to kill people.”
This is the reason senior Ethan Park decided not to play this year. He said, “The pandemic made it so that people were not as predictable with their movements throughout the day since students are not going to school physically, which would make it a lot harder and less enjoyable.”
Junior Lexy Martinucci described her excitement and comfortability with the game and said, “I am playing this game because it has been something I have looked forward to throughout my years as a freshman and sophomore. I am totally comfortable playing the game, it has been a Las Lomas tradition within the students for such a long time. This game brings the upperclassman closer together, and gives the lower grades something to look forward to! I am also comfortable because the leaders have a solid set of rules which applies to the regular game as well as adjustments to COVID. This year has been so difficult, especially socially for many people- and this game is a fun outlet where people can have some fun and still be safe by distancing and wearing masks.”