Ryan Casey ’23
When I pulled up to Tippetts Hall as a new student at Mercersburg Academy, I was met by a score of floral-clad young men raring to lift every single item of baggage I had up to my room. Everyone was very nice and efficient; my god, you guys got in and out quickly! In fact, I didn’t even have to open the trunk, as one of the boys had navigated his way to the automatic opener on the trunk door. I was surprised at how friendly everyone was; I was also surprised that the faculty seemed to have cast some sort of magical spell that allowed them to remember every single Tippetts resident’s name.
But, as often happens with memory, it’s the bad experiences that linger. I remember my first week here being largely negative. One of the most disturbing moments was during Stony Batter’s second full meeting, where we were playing some improv games, namely Bus Stop. I started out the skits with a, if I may say so myself, “kickass” skit about Matthew McConaughey (yes, I did have to Google that spelling). Then, after doing my thing and sitting down to watch everyone else’s skits, we came to a one about an anti-vax ‘Karen,’ in which one of the performers made a joke about euthanizing an autistic child.
The most disturbing thing about that moment was not the laughter of some in the audience, for that could be forgiven as shock. It was not the fact that the person even made the joke either. It was the fact that the scene was allowed to continue. No student leader, TA, or director made a single move to stop the skit in its tracks. No speech of condemnation was made after the fact, and it went largely ignored. As you can imagine, this incident left a bad taste in my mouth.
This was not helped by what happened the next week during the vocal auditions for Little Shop of Horrors. A group of Stony kids (including me) were waiting for a solo vocal audition. I was on my phone when I overheard a group of kids talking about how the show was already “precast” and what roles they were going to get. On top of this, they were talking badly about other Stony kids and their performing capabilities. They were even trash talking some girl in a previous year’s musical and her singing abilities. Which, I’m sure, were lovely – you do you girl; don’t let the haters get you down.
These two moments were largely representative of my theater experience. Rude comments not dealt with and rampant, vile gossip. I just couldn’t comprehend this: after all we’re theater kids. We already get made fun of by the rest of the school – no need to do it to ourselves. Regardless, it was apparent someone had resorted to friendly fire.
I have made my points largely about Stony Batter; however, I am saddened to say that it is not just my experience in the theater department that has me disappointed. During my Mercersburg experience, I am not proud to say I’ve been called fat twice by two seperate people. I’m not proud to say that I’ve heard girls at this school be called whores multiple times. I’m not proud to say that I’ve watched numerous people struggling largely unsupported.
So, now we arrive at the point, my plea to the people of Mercersburg. To all the students, being at Mercersburg has offered us a rare, early opportunity to learn how to be decent human beings, so, support your peers. When you hear people talking badly of others, put a stop to it. We should be less focused on who’s hooking up with whom or whether someone enjoys the dining hall a bit too much and focus on growing up to become leaders, to become pioneers, to become healers of the great divide, to be beautiful people. The world is already filled with so much hate, don’t add to it.
To the Mercersburg faculty, the head of school, the dean (however many there are), focus less on who’s making their bed or who’s missed classes too much and focus more on the students who are hurting themselves, the students who feel more comfortable disclosing their demons with their wannabe therapist friends rather than actual mental health professionals, and for god sakes focus more on the gossip and cruelty within the community. Because, I’ll bet you that if it’s happening to me and those girls, it’s happening to someone else too.
To the Mercersburg News, thanks for giving me this space to express myself; to the reader, go forth with love and kindness and it will return to you tenfold.