Game Nights Keep Freshman Class Connected

In the final days before winter break, History teacher Mr. Rennie and Ceramics teacher Mr. Lid invited some fun into their classrooms with a few rounds of online gameplay (on Mafia and Scribblio, respectively). Then, over winter break, the freshman Class Council group chat came alive around the idea of trying to build some class spirit through a game night. When the game night turned out to be a big hit, with over a third of the Class of 2024 attending despite relatively short notice, we checked in with the organizers to get a behind-the-scenes perspective. 

Class Representative Grace Williams '24 shared, “I had a game night as one of my ideas when I ran for office, so then when I won, I kind of thought, Well, I’d better try to make this happen!” Caya Greene '24, who is an Alternate Class Rep and an RPS lifer, said, “Although fund-raising is definitely a focus of some of our efforts, we thought it was important to have some activities that are centered around making connections, especially because of COVID-19. It was great to see how open-minded people were about trying something new.” 

The members of the Freshman Class Council kicked around ideas about what games would translate well into a Zoom format, finally landing on Among Us, Scribblio, and Mafia as the best options. (Among Us and Mafia are strategy games based on a mechanic that assigns roles which players then have to try to deduce while other players actively try to deceive them; Scribblio is a drawing-based game, similar to Pictionary™.) After Class Council got the word out about their plans, Class Rep Dan Achacon '24 made a Google Form to gather information about which game(s) each participant wanted to play. “The Mafia room was all girls, at least at the beginning,” he remembered with a smile. “Eventually we encouraged people to switch things up and expand to playing with new people.”

Class President Zach Burden '24 was in charge of figuring out and managing the breakout rooms, which were game-specific. “It was a little crazy, but also a ton of fun. I ended up meeting people I’d never even seen before!” he said.

Vice President Philip Aymes '24, another RPS lifer, jokingly shared, “I’ve always known that I enjoy pretending to be evil! But honestly, all kidding aside, I had to leave because I’d told my parents that I’d be down for dinner at 8pm, and when I left, people were still going!” Caya agreed, “I was happy that people wanted to stay after the scheduled time… that was a really nice response.”

Alternate Class Rep Matthew Sauls '24, who was a newcomer to the class this year, shared in the appreciation. “This was a seriously great way for people to connect with peers outside of school.” Secretary Avani Jones '24, who is also new to RPS this year, was initially in the now-infamous all-girls Mafia room, and shared, “It was really fun to be in a group and find out how funny we all are!”

Looking back on the event, Daniel Achacon '24 said, “My favorite part was putting everyone together into a giant Mafia room, and then we could really connect with pretty much anyone and everyone. We had a lot of fun accusing other people for no reason. For example at one point we accused poor Aafiyah as being mafia solely because her name rhymed w/ the name of the game! It was all in good fun, though. We made sure we weren’t being mean.” Matthew chimed in, “Even though I wasn’t able to join in this first round, I was glad to be part of the planning. Afterwards all my friends were talking about how much they loved it, which was a great feeling.” 

Treasurer Diya Bhagat '24 summed the experience up: “One of the things I felt was really interesting was how fast the time went, and we all experienced this feeling of 'Wait, what, already?!” when we got pulled back into the big group from our breakout rooms. And I feel like the fact that it was optional rather than obligatory really helped keep it fun for everyone. We had a blast assigning people to unexpected roles, and it was so great when people who were Mafia stayed undiscovered. Because of our COVID-19 safety protocols, there are people that you don’t really get to connect with as much. I”m in the Rutgers group, so if it weren’t for events like this, I wouldn’t really have as much contact with students in the Prep group. So it was great to connect across the whole class.”

This desire for connection, it seemed, was the underlying inspiration that helped these young leaders take a dream from a text thread to reality. Rutgers Prep has a reputation for being a close-knit, welcoming community, and it’s been wonderful to see the Class of '24 step smoothly into roles which help keep that spirit alive, even in these challenging times. Stay tuned for news of the next Game Night… there will definitely be one!