Lost Gunn traditions mark shifts in student body


With every graduating class, a small series of memories, nicknames, inside jokes and traditions are inevitably lost. Factor in the COVID-19 pandemic—which kept students away from campus for almost two years—and one will come to find that even some of the most beloved and long- standing traditions have ceased to exist on campus. From traditions that altered the everyday student experience, such as sitting in designated areas during lunch, to online confessions pages and even morning announcements from the Titan Broadcast Network, these are some examples of how some of the most famous and followed Gunn traditions have come and gone.

Most current seniors are able to recall a stricter enforcement of seating culture. Just three years ago, it was an unquestioned school standard for the seniors to sit at the “senior quad,” the turf patch and benches in front of the P-building. Similarly, freshmen would sit at the “freshmen quad,” the concrete amphitheater and large field stretching from the parking lot to the N-building. Nowadays, students sit wherever they like, regardless of grade. “I never felt any pressure to sit in the freshman quad when I got here,” freshman Mikkel Smaaberg- Arnhoff said. “My friends and I just decide to find a spot that we like, and so I guess our grade level didn’t actually matter in the end.” Indeed, the way Smaaberg- Arnhoff described today’s seating culture is more or less the assignment sophomores and juniors had back when a so-called system was followed: find an unclaimed spot on campus, and sit there.

The fact that freshmen and seniors are now choosing to sit wherever they want is certainly a new development. While the majority of freshman quad lunch-goers may still be freshmen, and the majority of senior quad lunch- goers may be seniors, it is visible that the system is far less strict today. In fact, one is virtually guaranteed to find students from any grade sitting in any area on campus.

Today’s Titans, who primarily use Instagram and Snapchat, may be surprised to hear that one of the largest online pages in Gunn history was run on Facebook. In its heyday, the Gunn Confessions group had hundreds of followers and thousands of posts, which were largely anonymous submissions. Students submitted anything from confessions of secret crushes to complaints about classes to requests for personal advice. With the waning popularity of Facebook and the pandemic slowing student activity, it seems the account was taken down a few years ago, as it is now locked on Facebook. However, many similar accounts have attempted to reach the same popularity. Last year, an anonymous website, which was active for several weeks, allowed students to submit potential romantic couples. Earlier this school year, an Instagram confessions account made waves for a week, but was later taken down. While a student forum may never again reach the same popularity as Gunn Confessions, it seems that online pages have and will continue to occasionally pop up and challenge its title.

Unlike grade-based lunch seating and Facebook confessions, one lost Gunn tradition has recently been on a comeback: school announcements. Current seniors recall receiving morning announcements almost every day, which were in video format and produced by the Titan Broadcast Network as part of the video production class in 2019 and early 2020. The announcements continued less consistently through the online 2020-21 school year, but stopped soon afterwards. The class still exists, but interest in producing TBN went down after COVID-19, as new students were not familiar with the program. Since classes returned to campus, some teachers have made a habit of reading online announcements from the daily bulletin. However, video-format updates have recently returned with weekly Titans News Updates, produced by members of the Student Executive Council.

Just like everything in life, traditions come and go. Whether it’s online forums, news updates or even seating culture, every passing year marks the emergence of new traditions and the fading of old ones. Yet for those who miss traditions that have departed, all hope is not lost. Even if some once-beloved traditions no longer exist at Gunn, fragments of them still remain in yearbooks, old articles from The Oracle and in the memories of thousands of alumni. One just has to look hard enough to rediscover them.