If you’ve seen one of your classmates sprinting across Carmel like their life depends on it, you might have stumbled upon one of the most intense (and paranoia-inducing) events in which CHS students partake—and if that’s not the case, consider calling the police.
This game is called Assassins, and it’s hosted annually by and for the senior class here at Carmel High School. The objective is to “kill” a target with a Nerf gun or plastic spoon while evading one’s own pursuant. The ensuing cat-and-mouse chase is filled with thrills, kills and, for better or for worse, wheels.
In March 2014, a senior from Merrimack High School in New Hampshire backed into his assassin’s car while leaving his driveway, “possibly on purpose,” CBS Boston reported. Earlier in 2013, a student from a San Francisco suburb, where the cash prize for winning the game amounted to $4,000, crashed into a house while trying to escape her assassin.
These incidents have earned the game some degree of notoriety in many school districts, where faculty and police have even attempted to ban the game. However, for most CHS seniors, the excitement of the game outweighs the risks.
Class of 2014 graduate Mitchell Brown, who organized the 2014 Assassins game with Tim Westerman, feels that his class’ game was a success. “It got most of the senior class to participate in a game as a group,” Brown says, “which was really fun, even as we were coming to the end of high school.”
Fortunately, Westerman says he and Brown were able to organize Assassins without resistance from the CHS administration: “They told us they were completely fine with us having [the game], as long as it remained separate from school—so we incorporated that into the rules and really emphasized the fact that it was not to interfere with school or school-related functions like sports.”
Principal Rick Lopez, who says he has heard rumors about the current game, hopes to maintain the same balance this year. “I would like [for Carmel High] to stay a neutral place,” he remarks. “I’m not saying it’s good or bad, but Assassins doesn’t happen here.”
Lopez also makes sure to emphasize that Assassins is not a school-endorsed event: “We’re not part of it,” he says.
So who is behind Assassins?
CHS seniors Megan Paluba and Shelby Green began organizing the game at the end of February, going as far as to create waivers, spreadsheets and a Facebook group.
However, after disputes over rules and submission fees, Paluba and Green joined forces with fellow seniors Kaylee Arthur and Gina Sakoda. Now the group is busily supervising the game, which officially started Monday.
The game is still young, but as teacher Brenda Buran says, students “get really into it every year.”
Colin O’Grady, a student at Vanderbilt University who participated in Assassins during his time at CHS, is no stranger to taking the game seriously. At one point during Assassins, O’Grady was minding his own business at home when his assassin, Daniela Ventura, screamed and barged into his house.
“I texted my mom to unlock the front door, and I snuck out to my car in an attempt to drive away,” he recollects. “After not responding for a while, I think Daniela realized I had escaped. But right when I was starting the car engine, I heard a loud, high-pitched scream and saw her sprinting out of the house to my car.”
Undeterred, O’Grady put his car into reverse and started to drive away, but Ventura leaped on top of the vehicle and pointed a Nerf gun at Colin through a slightly-opened window. The two disagree on whether Colin was actually shot—Ventura insists she fired at him, while O’Grady swears he took the dart out of her gun—but after getting shot while trying to escape his car, Colin called it quits.
“I finally admitted defeat, since the whole thing was getting a little out of control and ridiculous,” he jokes.
But despite all the drama, the game’s ending is often unclear. Westerman is uncertain if last year’s match ever reached a conclusion.
“Some say the last assassins are still playing to this day, but nobody knows for sure,” he says.
Only time will tell what happens to the Class of 2015, which is already immersed in Assassins and showing no signs of slowing down.