Administration delays Powerpuff to March after citing COVID-19 and fan behavior



Powerpuff is a tradition that’s been held for years, where the school becomes divided between teams of red and blue, who hash it out in a girls only tag Football game.

A decades-long tradition changed for the second year in a row. The previously annual “Powerpuff,” colloquially called “Powderpuff,” football game and the corresponding pep rally was once again canceled. In 2020 the game was not rescheduled, however this year the administration is hopeful to hold the event in March.

A combination of COVID-19 restrictions, prior inappropriate student behavior and frustration from the Brookline Educators Union (BEU) has led the administration to reschedule this year’s game to an unknown date in March. The administration is also using this as an opportunity to reimagine the entire event, game and pep rally in hopes of being more inclusive and decrease divisive tensions present in past years.

Powerpuff is a touch-football game between girls of the senior class and girls of the junior class. Freshmen are “teamed up” with the junior class and sophomores with the seniors, and the two competing sides wear their class colors, either red or blue, as a display of school and class spirit. Prior to the game, the school previously gathered in Schluntz gym for songs, dances and chants in support of their respective teams. The pep rally and game were also traditionally events to support the varsity football team before their final season game on Thanksgiving day.

Junior Jenna Lazowski is a student athlete at the high school. She said she was disappointed when she found out that the game wasn’t going to happen on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving because this event is something she had been looking forward to for a long time.

“In the past I’ve looked forward to going to the game. I was sad we didn’t have it last year. My friends and I have been talking about playing in the game since like 6th grade,” Lazowski said.

Associate Dean of Students for the class of 2022 and 2023, Lisa Redding, said that the COVID-19 pandemic influenced the administration’s decision to reschedule the game. She said that this is an example of the disappointment from the pandemic carrying on longer and more severely than expected.

“COVID-19 certainly plays a huge role. When we left here in June, we thought, ‘Oh, we’re going to start the next school year with no masks and back to normal and all that stuff.’ That obviously didn’t happen. We just want to be really careful,” Redding said.

Interim Dean of Students Summer Williams also said that they are hopeful that the event can be more enjoyable and safer in March and that the pushed-back date allows more time to reimagine the event.

“We thought if we wait until spring, we can feel a little bit better about gathering outside. The odds of it being slightly warmer than now are possible. The odds of us being able to have some good lead time and really build a good, strong event that is student-lead and student-centered are great.” Williams said.

Lazowski and some of her peers wanted the event to happen in November. They worked with guidance counselor Clifton Jones during the early fall to pressure the administration into scheduling the game. However, despite their efforts, the administration was not as responsive as Lazowski and her friends wanted. Lazowski said by the time they got a response, it was too late.

“It was hard to communicate with the deans and they were not responding well. By the time we really heard back from them, the game was only two or three weeks away. We weren’t going to have time to practice or get a field or anything,” Lazowski said.

Williams said the administration wanted time before the event to brainstorm with students on how to change it, in hopes of eliminating aspects of the day that they were not happy with. These included toxic class rivalry, inappropriate student behavior and an exclusive objective of the event.

“The day was starting to feel divisive,” Williams said. “I saw problems with the way people interpreted the day and engaged around it. It wasn’t necessarily what was going on on the field that made things hard. There was questionable student behavior and there was questionable student intention.”

Lazowski said she was confused about the administration’s motives for changing the event. She said she believes the event ran smoothly before and any mishaps are inevitable.

“I don’t know what aspects of it need to be reimagined. I think in the past it has gone pretty well. I think there has been inappropriate student behavior at past powerpuffs, but that’s to be expected with highschoolers. I think at any school event there is going to be some bad behavior,” Lazowski said.

The administration cited another reason, besides COVID-19 and bad behavior, for why they want to delay the event. Staff across the entire district are working without a contract for the second year in a row. Redding said that because Powerpuff is an all-volunteer event, it’s difficult to ask teachers to volunteer their time when they’re amidst a frustrating contract negotiation.

“Our teachers go far and above what their job responsibilities are,” Redding said.

The administration said they want the reimaging of the day to be an exciting event for the junior and senior classes. Williams said she thinks the students don’t understand how much power they could have in changing Powerpuff long term.

“These two classes right now have the opportunity to reframe and reshape this thing for forever. This is the moment we are in. We are shaping to get to the more ideal place. We want you to own it just as much. I’m not playing in that game,” Williams said. “It stinks that the folks who really care and really want to craft something are fighting upstream against all the other stuff. We have an opportunity to change that. Why not? It actually gets me hyped thinking about it. It puts the emphasis back on the right thing.”