Four grades fight to the finish in newly expanded Color War

Annual spirit competition spread usual academic and sports events and skits over two days instead of one


BP Photo by Katia Surpin

LEAPFROG: Seniors J.J. Helperin and Josh Joffe, cheered on by teammates, help lead the black team to victory in the first-ever Apache Relay.

By Jacob Feitelberg, Staff Writer

When there’s a car in the lobby, different colored balloons strewn all over the floor, and students in face paint and neon colors streaming into the building, there can only be one thing happening — Color War.

On Wednesday afternoon Feb. 22, what started out as a fire drill turned into the first Color War in the new building, expanded from one day to more than two, and from two teams to four – one for each grade, led by grade-level captains.

The extra day gave students more time to spend on creative competitions like the banner and skit; all four team banners were later placed in permanent positions in the gym. When it was over, the seniors, Team Black, had pulled off a close win over the sophomores, Team Purple.

“We place a high value on community and culture and this a great community event,” said new General Studies Principal Mr. Daniel Weslow, experiencing the annual competition for the first time. “I think it’s great how the students have gotten so involved and enthusiastic.”

Highlights included a new activity called the Apache Relay, which combined academics, co-curriculars, athletics and a scavenger hunt, and as always, the very popular team skits.

The relay saw students running all over the building in timed tasks ranging from basketball shooting, Lego building and watermelon eating to math problems, a chemistry experiment and a Talmud quiz. Students cheered on runners as they ran the baton from floor to floor to start the next contest.

TRAFFIC: A black car parked in the lobby by seniors greeted students on the first full day of Color War.
BP Photo by Katia Surpin
TRAFFIC: A black car parked in the lobby by seniors greeted students on the first full day of Color War.

At the end, the Black team won the race by such a close margin that Boaz and Laly had to check the security cameras to see who crossed the finish line first.

“My adrenaline was at an all-time high for a full 90 minutes,” said senior Micah Gill, who ran Black’s baton to the finish line in the last few moments of the race.

Moments later, his team was cheering and dancing in the main stairwell and on top of Micah’s black Prius, which they had driven into the lobby earlier in the day.

“I appreciate how cautious they were with the car,” said Mr. Weslow.

As usual, Color War skits had students acting the roles of various teachers and administrators in fictionalized stories about Shalhevet, this time on the stage in the gym. In the juniors’ skit, Head of School Rabbi Segal fired Principal Reb Noam Weissman for not being a rabbi, after which Rabbi Segal – played by Alex Silberstein – struggled to pick a new Judaic Studies principal.

Time and again, teachers were turned down for the post due to a specific flaw. Judaic Studies Teacher Ms. Ilana Wilner, played by Maayan Waldman, showed too much immaturity to get the position, and music teacher and journalism adviser Mrs. Joelle Keene showed too little respect for Shalhevet in The Boiling Point.

In the senior skit, students portrayed the teachers and administrators having a drinking party, but having forgotten to bring the alcohol.  Later, they found themselves in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

Played by Jacob Dauer, Reb Weissman — known in the student body for stressing that “transition is the ultimate sign of maturity,” transitioned from being a man to a woman.  The skit ended with a warning against alcohol and its effects and the teachers finally getting the alcohol for their party.

In the sophomores’ skit, former General Studies Principal Roy Danovitch, played by Daniel Lorell, created another school named “Shalhe-bet” because it was a second Shalhevet, with a “better” version of the Just Community.  The freshmen’s skit showed the origins of all of the teachers in a comedic way.

Ruach, or spirit, was high throughout the two days. The competition for best cheer ended in a four-way tie because each team had the same unity and spirit, according to the judges, Boaz and Laly.

“Everyone just had so much ruach and was so enthusiastic,” said freshman Adam Ritz on the contest’s second day. “In middle school, people aren’t that into Color War because middle school is just like a joke in the first place, but now that we’re in high school you’re just doing work all the time and getting this two-day break is everything, so everyone is way more into it.”

Some events showcased hidden talents. In the Lip Sync contest, students lip-synced popular songs ranging from Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody to Frozen’s “Let it Go.” Everyone applauded and laughed as the performers pretended to play guitars or pranced around the stage in wigs.

Team songs ranged from energetic to calm and slow, with every team using instruments or speakers. Sophomore Shaya Rosen played the guitar for the Purple team.

“I didn’t even know Shaya played the guitar,” said Rabbi David Stein.

After that, team stomps shook the gym as each grade put a different spin on how to create a beat with everyday objects.

At the end of closing ceremonies, Boaz and Laly announced the winner.  When they  awarded second place to be the Team Purple, silence overtook the gym with the purple team clearly in shock;  only one person stood up to cheer, sophomore Ariel Cohen.

“I think that clearly Color War wasn’t about the victory,” Ariel said later. “It was about the experience, and our grade grew so much from the experience.”

Then they announced that Team Black had won, and the entire senior class rushed into a mosh pit, happily jumping up and down over the win.

Most people interviewed saidthe longer format and extra teams provided was a good idea, particularly for the sophomores and freshmen.

“It’s a way to get a lot more younger people involved, like sophomores and freshman, who don’t usually have a big role in Color War,” said sophomore Tirtza Schramm, who led the Purple team along with Jacob Perelman.

The grade that was able to get the most out of the leadership roles in Color War, however, was the freshmen, who do not usually lead any school activities.

“I was surprised,” said freshman co-captain Lucy Fried. “They kinda told us on the spot, but I was really happy and I love Color War and it’s really fun.”

Another goal had been bonding within grades.

“There isn’t a lot of time for grades to be together, besides like classes and some assemblies,” said Laly.  “We just wanted to create a space for the grades to come together and work together.”

Junior Adam Taryle said it worked.

“It really offers a bonding experience for each grade,” said Adam Taryle.  “Shalhevet prides itself on having strong inter-grade friendships, but some grades are known to be divided amongst themselves.”