Exploring the live action evolution of ‘Assassins’ at Carmel High

“I saw the lights come over the hill and down as they continued to look for me. I got out of my car, locked it, left my stuff behind and began crawling alongside the street,” senior Alessandro Boaro starts to explain. The pursuers then encircled his house, hungry for a kill, and Boaro tactically evaded their warfare by jumping into the bushes beside his house. After seeing the lights pass, Boaro sprinted uphill to his fortress.

It comes as no surprise that this game called Assassins is popular every year at Carmel High School. Each senior class has its own iteration of the game, and students take it to different levels of seriousness.

The objective? “Kill” your assigned target using a Nerf gun before the “Kill List” comes out. If you eliminate your target before the list comes out, you acquire their target and continue on your “killing” spree. After that, it’s a free-for-all.

Usually, the process of creating an Assassins tournament is relatively straightforward. A game host—who, in CHS’ case, is senior Ben Weber—advertises the upcoming tournament and players begin to join the game while the host collects players’ information, including their name, phone number and a photograph. After a cutoff date, folders for each player are made and players are assigned targets by receiving a folder of a different player.

But how did this senior tradition get so popular at CHS?

CHS principal Rick Lopez notes that the game started appearing on campus six to seven years ago, and has grown since. Because of this, administrative policies regarding the game have changed throughout the years as well.

“As a few situations arose over the years in which student interaction with the game interrupted school activities,” Lopez explains. “We had some conversations and set some restrictions on activity at school.”

Assistant principal Tom Parry maintains that the game is in no way affiliated or sponsored by CHS, but that students themselves create the game.

“Each year the organizers of the game have met with us on their own and shown us the stated rules,” Parry says, “showing that it will not be on campus or at school-related events.”

It is possible that the host can charge a fee at the inception of the game to create a pool of winnings for the last person standing. This year, Weber has set the game fee at $5, up from $3 last year when 2016 graduate Alyssa Bethea hosted the game.

“This is one of the cornerstone senior-year activities; it helps bridge the gap between March and April,” Weber says. “It helps give people something to keep their mind off of school…. People who are still in are having a blast, and when people get out they generally are angry, yet as soon as the person who ‘killed’ them ‘died,’ they get happy again. It’s kind of a weird cycle.”

However, sometimes there has been no clear winner of the game, and it can drop off later in the school year. Because of this, some seniors are skeptical about where the winning money actually goes.

“[Where the money goes] is a bit concerning because it is supposed to go to the winner,” senior Adam Morrison says. “I feel like that could be unfair, and the last man standing should get to keep the money to themselves.”

Despite this, current players have high hopes for the game’s outcome and are already prepared to make their “kills.” From devising a plan to acquiring a Nerf gun, senior Maddie Parker has all of her bases covered.

“I’m aiming to get my target whenever they are at their most exposed,” Parker says. “I’m preparing by doing background research on people before I go to ‘kill’ them, so I can be as in-control of the situation as possible.”

Despite occasional and unintentional calamities, the senior-run tradition can have high levels of success, with large showings of participation and an overall feeling of class spirit and camaraderie in the past.

“It seemed like two-thirds of the class played,” 2016 CHS graduate and Assassins participant Rachel Glover says. “I joined because I thought it would be fun, and I wanted to be involved in one of the senior activities.”

This year, more than 120 Carmel seniors are participating in the tournament. Information folders containing the rules, name and photograph were officially passed out on March 13, so the tournament is well underway—as of March 27, there are 74 players left standing.

“I’m very excited,” Parker says, “and my chances of winning seem pretty low, but who knows? It would be fun to win.”

-Ellie Alto