Audrey Bernstein ’20

As the school year comes to a close, many seniors will choose to arm themselves with Nerf Guns, a sign that they are gripped by “AP Assassin,” a Staples High School tradition.

Each year, after paying an entry fee of $20, seniors who take an AP class and choose to participate are given a classmate to target and “assassinate” with a nerf gun. If a player is hit they are eliminated from the game, and the last two students standing earn a cash prize. The prize, made up of the entry fees, is often more than $2,000.

This year, however, student organizers have chosen to alter the tradition. According to organizers Nicole Arellano ’18 and Dan Kleine ’18, a percentage of the activity’s entree fee proceeds will go to Sandy Hook Promise, an organization based in Newtown, Connecticut that works to reduce gun violence.  

“Our intent is to honor all victims of gun violence by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation,” the Sandy Hook Promise website says. “By uniting people of all beliefs and backgrounds who value the protection of children […] we will prevent gun violence and stop the tragic loss of life.”

In the aftermath of this year’s shooting in Parkland, Florida, the organization has continued to push for these goals.

Arellano and Kleine chose not to comment on their reason for donating to the organization.

Ali Feder ’20, student activist and participant in the school walkout against gun violence, believes that recent events such as the shooting in Parkland may have inspired this decision. “Some might not be comfortable with the game in the current [political and social] climate, but this way, if you participate, it is going to a good cause,” Feder said.

Similarly, Eliza Oren ’21 supports the choice to donate to Sandy Hook Promise. “I do agree with the actions that the students are taking,” she said. “It’s so important that they are promoting the overall message of gun safety during this game.”

However, despite the recent events, Eden Schumer ’18 does not believe that they must be tied to AP Assassin. “Gun violence and advocating for common sense gun reform are both extremely important to our futures, but that issue and AP assassin are, in my mind, two different things,” Schumer said.

She added that although the game involves targeting one another, there is no emphasis on “shooting” each other with the Nerf Guns, and the activity is more like a game of tag.

Many students express enthusiasm for the game. “It seems like a very fun and friendly competition for students to participate in as one of the last parts of their senior year,” Feder said.

This year, Klein estimates that 150 students will participate.

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